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!
These cookies weren't difficult to bake (and I am NO baker by ANY means)and everyone loved them, except one person who thought they were too cakey.
I did double the amount of anise to 1/4 tsp in the icing and it was fabulous.
As she recommended, I used her exact measurements of milk and sugar for the icing and after each batch came out of the oven I microwaved the whole bowl for ten seconds and then it was nice and thin. I found I had to hold the tray of cookies with my left hand, remove a cookie with my right, dip it into the icing, put the cookie on the rack, and then sprinkle it with the little dots. I think if you dunk them all into the icing, by the time you get around to putting the dots on, the icing would be too hard for the dots to stick.
Also, the recipe did NOT take nearly the 3 "possible" cups of flour. It couldn't even take 2.5. I ended up throwing out about 1/4 of flour because the dough was quite dry and I used all three TBS of milk.
Next time I'll use 2 1/4 cups of flour and probably only 2 tsp of baking powder. Maybe they'll be a little less cakey. Not that cakey is a bad thing. :)
I just made this for Christmas Eve guests and of course I have to taste test a final cookie... DEELISH!!! I followed the instructions exactly. The cookies came out with a slight dome for dipping (I think I'll add a little more flour next time OR will not add the third Tbs of milk. It made 42 2" round cookies. It IS a soft cookie and because there's not much sugar in the dough (I like that), the biggest flavor you'll get (without the icing) is the anise flavor (which was just right). The only thing I did have to do differently is make a little more icing for my last 8 cookies, so I'd say to add an extra 1/2 c. powdered sugar and a half tsp. milk with a drop or 2 extra anise extract. DO put the sprinkles on RIGHT after EACH cookie or the icing will dry out too fast. I did it on a drying rack over a cookie sheet to contain the spillage. Worked like a charm.
I usually don't like cookies that are this "cakey" but I really enjoy this recipe. I substituted with almond milk and used powdered anise with almond extract.
WOW! This recipe is a big keeper!
Thanks a lot for posting it!
I prepared the green ones with almond aroma (in the glaze I used powdered sugar, Amaretto and color) and the red ones with anise seeds ground (in the glaze powdered sugar, ouzo and red color).
This is like being a kid at my Nunny's (grandmother's) all over again!!! She made these every christmas, and the smell of Anise reminds me of her. We made these today, one batch Anise, one, Almond, and we did one lemon. All were great!
These are truly exceptional cookies and well worth the effort to follow the directions as presented. The cookie itself is light and pillowy with a soft cake inside and delicate exterior (neither crispy nor chewy). The anise is present enough to please those of us who are devotees but gentle enough not to discourage others from enjoying. Based on the results, I am thinking of adding these to my Christmas trays using white icing and an assortment of themed sprinkles. I made my dough today and bake three cookies as testers. The rest of the dough is frozen for baking closer to Easter. Will report back on that experiment. Thanks Cookin'Diva.
Not what I expected at all. Super sticky. Flattened out. They fell apart when I tried to ice them. Alas they were yummy. Like a cake but not what I was looking for at all!