The Italian Anisette Cookie. The familiar “S” shaped cookie with the white icing and colored sprinkles. It just wouldn’t be an Italian Cookie Tray without it! Many may not like the distinct licorice taste from the oil of anise so at times I’ve left it out to please those who were not familiar with it or in finding the crushed herb seeds in their cookies!
But for those of us raised on these cookies, their unique taste, shape and presence at Christmas is a comforting treat of family traditions and memories. These were the cookies I watched my mother shape and bake year after year. And these were the cookies I had to promise not to overload with sprinkles!! Both the shape of the ‘S’ and figure ‘8” were common. Lemon or almond can be substituted for the anise extract. Their lightly sweet taste is again as most Italian cookies, perfect for dipping in espresso…or wine!
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
1/2 cup milk, room temp
5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
6 generous teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons anise extract
Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Mix in the anise. Add in the milk and flour, alternating portions of each until all combined. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead until dough is firm and not sticky, adding more flour if necessary.
Break off a handful of dough at a time and roll into long pencil, cut into 3 inch pieces. Shape into ‘S’ shape on ungreased cookie sheet. These cookies will puff up. Bake approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove to cool on rack, then frost. Makes about 5-7 dozen depending on size of cookie.
Fosting: In a large bowl, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add in 1/2 pound of confectioners’ sugar. Stir in milk, about 4-5 tablespoons, stirring to incorporate well, to a desired consistency for frosting the cookies. Brush on cookies, apply sprinkles and return to rack to set.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.