Anyone who enjoys licorice flavors will appreciate these anisette cookies. It also would be good if you like a cakey cookie instead of a crisp, crunchy one and don’t mind frosting.
Our friend Cris, holding his hand to indicate a 4-inch diameter cookie, recalled that his uncle made these cookies generously large, though one wonders if in a childhood memory, a cookie in a small hand was really as large as a cookie in a grown man’s hand.
In any event, however large you want to make them, they go together quickly. Empty the dry ingredients into a sizable bowl and make a well to swallow up the wet ingredients. You don’t need to dig out your mixer, just stir it all together. I used a 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop to measure out the dough, and flattened them slightly before baking.
Don’t let them brown. They are meant to be soft so once the tops are barely firm — test by putting your finger on them — pull them out of the oven. It’s OK if the bottoms are lightly golden.
Clearly anise is not an important flavoring for Yankees. It can be a little difficult to find anise extract in larger than 1-ounce bottles, and I easily used up the whole bottle in order to get the strength of the anise flavor I prefer. Ordering from an online source can sometimes yield a larger amount. Professional bakers might use a food-grade anise oil by the drop, but that is hard to find as well. Further boost the anise flavor by adding extract to the frosting.
While the first pan-full of cookies are baking, mix up the frosting: confectioners’ sugar with a dose of anise extract and warm milk. After you take the cookies out of the oven, dip the tops into the frosting while they are still a little warm, but have cooled enough that you can pick them up. That’s when you sprinkle on the decorations.
Makes 25 larger-sized cookies, or more if smaller.
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1-2 tablespoons anise extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons hot milk
2-3 teaspoons anise extract
Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder.
Form a well in the dry ingredients by gently pushing down the mix at the center of the bowl, and pour the oil, milk, eggs and anise extract into the space.
Stir all together to make the dough.
Roll dough into balls, flatten slightly and put them on the cookie sheets.
Bake until the tops of the cookies are still pale and just firm, about 12 minutes.
To make the icing, mix the confectioners’ sugar, hot milk and anise extract together until smooth. Dip the cookie tops into the icing, then sprinkle on decorations if desired and allow to cool.