These cookies bring back so many memories for me.
Our family has been making Anisette cookies (also known as Anise cookies) for the holidays since forever. Every holiday season, I would help my grandmother & my mom bake all our holiday cookies in the weeks leading up to Christmas. We have a handful of recipes that are staples & need to be made every year. Then we always have the random last minute additions of new recipes to try out.
We of course save some of the cookies we make for our dessert portion of the Christmas Day festivities, but we mostly give out a ton as gifts. Gifting homemade desserts is such a great option if you don’t know what to get someone. I found these great treat boxes that I use all the time now when giving desserts as gifts. Just tie up the box with some ribbon & you’re good to go! Ok back to this yummy recipe….
This is probably my all time favorite holiday cookie.
This recipe is from my Mom’s side of the family (the Italian side). Stella, my grandfather’s cousin, made these cookies so perfectly. Her cookie stayed completely pale even after baking it, no cracks on the top & the inside was so moist and cake-like. We follow her recipe exactly (even baked alongside her a few times) and my Mom & I could never quite achieve her perfectly round, un-cracked Anisette cookies. Nevertheless, they taste exactly the same, we just can’t get the perfectly smooth tops to ours.
And that is why I make the icing extra thick!
The extra anise added to the icing, really helps in bringing that sweet, licorice flavor. I know the taste of licorice doesn’t sound appetizing to most, but growing up these little round cookies were something I looked forward to every year. The little bit of orange juice added to the batter helps bind the cookies (don’t worry it doesn’t leave an “orangey” taste). Just make sure you get the orange juice with pulp! That’s key!! Using regular orange juice for some reason just doesn’t cut it & the dough becomes way too dry and crumbly.
You can decorate these cookies with sprinkles or just leave them with just the icing. Traditionally rainbow sprinkles are used to decorate these cookies, but I wanted to be festive & decorate this batch with holiday themed sprinkles!
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups of flour, sifted
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 stick of butter, melted
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 2 tbsp. orange juice with pulp
- 1 tsp. anise flavor
- 4 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
- 3-4 tsp. anise flavor
- confectioners sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix together all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Make a well in the middle & slowly add in the slightly beaten eggs while drawing in the dry ingredients.
- Add in melted butter, orange juice & anise flavor slowly. Mix well. Dough should be crumbly but will come together if you mix it with your hands.
- Roll the dough by hand into a ball, about the size of a walnut.
- Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Cool completely before icing.
- Mix the melted butter & anise flavor.
- Add in the confectioners sugar slowly and mix until you reach your desired consistency (I prefer a thicker icing so that's about ½ cup of confectioners sugar).