All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Sunday, December 6, 2009

italian anise cookies for Christmas

Nothing like a soft little snowstorm to get in the mood for Christmas! While the ice storm we had last December still sits lurking in our memories, this snowfall was delightful - soft and fluffy, and very pretty. It also reminded me to start deciding which Christmas cookies to make this year. I snatched up The Boston Globe magazine from last Sunday, where I remembered seeing a recipe for cute little lemon-glazed anise "snail " cookies.
Now, I do realize anise is a love or loathe spice, but happily, I'm in the love department. It has a strong licorice aroma and a milder taste. The recipe called for anise extract, which I didn't have, so I toasted and ground a teaspoon of anise seeds - but I would use the anise extract next time for a bolder anise flavor.
I made a few adaptations ( more flour, more lemon juice, clementine juice instead of orange juice), and I made a tray of tiny cookies using my smallest ice cream scoop, as well as the snail cookies. I liked them both, so you can go either way. And another bonus? They're dairy free.
Adapted from The Boston Globe magazine recipe from A&J King Bakers:
To make:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 1 T. sugar
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 ( or more) anise extract or 1 t. toasted & ground anise seeds
1/4 cup clementine juice, or orange juice
1T. baking powder
3 (plus or minus) cups King Arthur flour
The icing:
1 cup confectioners sugar
fresh lemon juice to make a very thin glaze
anise seeds or clementine zest for tops
Preheat oven to 350F.
2 cookie sheets, UNgreased
In mixer bowl, beat the eggs and oil until foamy. With mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, then the vanilla, anise extract or seeds, and clementine or orange juice. Add the baking powder and mix in the flour until the dough is stiff.
Pinch off about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a short rope - about 6 inches. Coil the rope on the baking sheet neatly into a circle. Or, use a mini-ice cream scoop and scoop onto cookie sheet. The cookies don't really spread, so you can set them fairly close together.
One sheet at a time, place in oven for 12-14 minutes. When first sheet is done, remove to a cooling rack and bake the second sheet.
Mix up the thin glaze and brush on the warm baked cookies. Sprinkle with a little lemon or clementine zest, and a pinch of anise seed if you wish. The warmth will release that wonderful cloud of anise aroma.
Continue with the second sheet of cookies , ice, and let cool.
Happy December!


Martha said...

I love anise cookies at Christmas -- will have to try yours.

katrina said...

How wonderful that you also love anise, Martha! Such a unique flavor - and I hope you enjoy these! Thanks so much for taking a look...

Martha said...

It's interesting that so many European cookies have anise. I do think it is an acquired taste!

katrina said...

That's true, Martha. I suspect it has something to do with the older culture Europe has, and the Spice trade. Happily, I love anise and fennel seed, but if you're not used to it, I imagine it could taste somewhat peculiar.

Barb said... had a snow storm???
Very pretty! Is there still snow on the ground?

This cookie recipe looks good too. I'll have to give them a try.

katrina said...

Yes, Barb - a few inches of snow still out there - with more to come in the next few days. But the good news is no BIG storms! Whew. Glad you enjoyed these lovely cookies - the house still smells wonderful from baking yesterday!

kellypea said...

I'm so sorry I've been missing in action! Work is crazy busy and so of course it puts a dent in my blogging life. These cookies are lovely. I'm a late admirer of anise, as I believe some flavors are more understood with age, and I have the corner on that market ; ) So jealous of your snow storm, but we've had incredible rain and gusts of wind that have ripped branches from trees today, so I will settle for this bit of "winter" in our lives.

katrina said...

Kelly - Been missing you - but then, many the day I don't get online until nighttime. Loving your Christmas cookie posts - and so sorry about your sweet doggie.

As my father kept the cupboard stocked with anisette toast, it was an early introduction for me, and I've never stopped enjoying it - lucky me!

Michelle said...

I love anise too although I'm the onl one in the house that does! So I'm a loner but I don't mind at all baking cookies for moi!

katrina said...

Hi Michelle! Hee hee, lucky you! Actually, I've given these cookies to a lot of people who thought they didn't like anise - guess what? Yep, they only THOUGHT they didn't like anise. I don't know if using the anise seed instead of extract made a big difference, but they were to check on your Christmas cookie posts!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

How cute and delicious are these cookies! The frosting looks gooey and sweet too. What a wonderful cookie thanks for posting the recipe!

katrina said...

Thanks, Nastassia! Actually, the icing hardens to a nice little glaze, not gooey at all. But when you bite into it, you get a whole lovely bouquet of flavors - delicious!