Prep 40 mins
Cook 30 mins
These delicate cake-like cookies are glazed with icing and topped with colorful candy sprinkles. They have a mild anise flavoring, which is very typical of Italian baked goods. My family always served these cookies at holidays, weddings or special celebrations, but now that I know the recipe, I can enjoy them all year long!
- 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
- 1⁄2 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons anise extract (or almond extract)
- 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour (may need up to 3 cups)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 -3 tablespoons milk
- 2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1⁄8 teaspoon anise extract
- food coloring
- decorative candy sprinkles
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- For cookies, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add anise extract.
- Blend flour and baking powder. Start by adding about 1/3 of these dry ingredients to the butter/sugar in your mixer, then add 1 T. milk. Add another third of the flour and another 1 T. milk. Finally, mix in enough of the remaining flour until your dough is like a brownie batter (it should be softer than a drop cookie dough).
- Use a 1 T. cookie scooper to make simple round drop cookies - use wet fingers to pat any rough edges OR for an Easter-Egg look, roll 1 T. dough into an elongated ball.
- Bake cookies 10-12 minutes (they won't be brown but the insides will be soft and cake-like).
- For icing: mix sugar, milk and extract to make a sugar glaze. HINT: When I make the icing, I make it thick but then I microwave it for 10 seconds so it is thin enough for dipping. Also, I like to divide the mixture in thirds, and then add ONE DROP of food coloring to each batch (pink, green, yellow).
- Hold cookie in your hand and turn upside down so you can dip the top half in the glaze; turn over and immediately top with sprinkles so they will stick.
- Allow icing to harden overnight; then store in air-tight containers or freeze.
I have been trying to get this cookie right for three years now. I had almost given up. As an Irish girl, I have ZERO experience with this cookie. I had never had it before and didn't know how it was supposed to taste. The first time I made them (from another recipe) they were ROCK HARD and so dry. Awful. My husband tried them on my first attempt and said "Yep, this is the taste...but they are a little bit...erm...drier than I recall..." I was slightly defeated and ready to give up. However, my step daughter (VERY Italian on her mother's side) dearly loves these cookies. She asks for them every year. This recipe was my saving grace! My ten year old step daughter declared them "EXACTLY LIKE GRANDMA'S!!!" Which is high praise indeed as her grandma is well known for her "sprinkle cookies". I ended up using almond extract instead of Anise. That's how it's done here in New Jersey so I've been told. The cookies came out fluffy and cake like and so delicious. I'm thrilled to have been able to grant my darling step daughter's Christmas wish for these cookies.
These are pretty close to my grandma's. If you want the authentic secret, forget about the extract and use real Anisette liqueur. I'm sure you could use Amaretto liqueur if that's your thing, but Anisette is the right call for these cookies and biscotti. The Amaretto is for the Cannolis.
This recipe tastes EXACTLY the way my Sicilian neighbor used to make them. Tender, flavorful, and oh-so-pretty. I have Celiac, so I made these gluten-free - I used a combo of brown rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch (all common in gluten-free baking) in place of the all-purpose flour. I also added 1/2 a teaspoon of xanthan gum to the batter recipe. The cookies are divine! No one knows they are gluten-free - they just taste simply PERFECT. Thanks so much!