Italian Anisette Cookies for Christmas

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anise cookies

Sweet childhood memories seem to come up often when people see these Italian Anisette cookies on a platter at Christmas. These cookies are inspired by my mother in law who made them every year for her family. Just the scent of them baking brings back warm memories.

baking cookies

Anisette cookies have a soft interior with a warm licorice-like flavor of anise. You can form the dough into balls, braided knots and even rings. The shiny frosting can also be flavored with a little anise and then sprinkled with your favorite nonpareils. You can definitely have fun with all the different holiday sprinkles that are available this time of year to make them look very festive.

frosting cookies

These cookies will stay light in color when baked but have a nice golden brown bottom with some characteristic cracks on top.

anisette cookiesanise cookies

This recipe is adapted from the Cooking with Nonna website, sadly none of my husbands family had a complete recipe of their moms cookies but I knew this would be as close to hers as any, and it was.

I doubled the recipe because you’ll want to make a bunch like I did and I changed up the way the cookie gets mixed because it was one less step for my lazy self, and I’m happy to say it all worked out!

xmas cookies

Placed on a pretty platter these anisette cookies scream Christmas!

christmas cookies

They’re simple to make and the perfect addition to your holiday cookie trays.

Christmas cookies

Grab a cup of coffee, tea or espresso and enjoy this Italian cookie classic this holiday season, you still have plenty of time to make them!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Italian Anisette Cookies for Christmas
 
Adapted from The Cooking with Nonna website.
Author:
Ingredients
  • COOKIE DOUGH
  • 5 cups all purpose flour, un-bleached
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons anise extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • ICING
  • 3 cups, confectioner's sugar
  • 6 tablespoons half and half or cream, adjusting if you need a little more or less. Icing should have a nice flow when stirring it with a little thickness but not runny
  • 1 teaspoon anise extract ( or if you prefer another extract like lemon, almond or orange)
  • nonpareils for decorating
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place parchment paper onto rimmed baking sheets.
  2. In a separate bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk until incorporated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl with your electric hand or stand mixer (preferably a stand mixer with paddle) add the softened butter and confectioners sugar, beat on medium speed until well combined.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time along with the extracts, beating until all is incorporated.
  5. Lower the speed and add in all your dry ingredients a cup at a time, dough ball will form and pull away from side, the dough will be sticky.
  6. Form your balls either from a rounded teaspoon or a small cookie scoop which I used. Remember you can roll your dough and form them into a knot or a ring if you like as well.
  7. Keep them 2 inches apart on the lined baking sheet and pop them in the oven for 12 minutes total, bottoms will be golden and tops still pale with some cracks.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. MAKING THE ICING
  10. Stir together in a bowl the confectioners sugar, extract and half and half.
  11. Dip or brush the tops of the cookies into the icing then immediately add your sprinkles ( over a bowl so they don't fly all over your kitchen).
  12. Let the icing dry completely on a rack before you store the cookies away.
  13. NOTE;
  14. You can bake these ahead of time and freeze if you don't frost them, I would recommend frosting them just a day or two ahead before you'll be serving them, otherwise the frosting won't look as nice and fresh.

 

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Comments

  1. PLEASE give me your input on what I’m asking….I have ALWAYS used Crisco shortening when making these and they come out tender and delicious. I tried (a few years back) using butter and found they were not as soft and tender and went back to using shortening, is there something I’m missing? Have you always used butter and are they very tender (like I like them)? Somehow the recipe I used with butter were just not the same..

    • Diane, Back in the day Crisco was always used, my mother in law used it all the time, but then Crisco got a bad rap with the trans fats and hydrogenated oils that they included.Butter was a better and healthier swap. I do think they are reducing the amounts they use now. I have to agree the shortening might keep them softer longer but I just pack them good between layers of waxed paper.

  2. I’ve wanted to make these forever, your recipe has been saved. Thank you and Merry Christmas:@)

  3. Wow, this brings back childhood memories!! Thanks for sharing the recipe! 🙂

  4. Will definitely make these a new tradition for my family. They look wonderful, sound fun to make and I love anise flavor. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Could I substitute lemon extract in the dough? Would the amount be the same?

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