Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Cookie Week Day 3: Aunt Jennie's Anise Cookies

I know I told you on Monday that this week I will be sharing five of my favorite Christmas recipes, but this one might be my most favorite of them all. Nothing says Christmas like my Aunt Jennie's Anise cookies. Every year, I would sneak around the house to find them and get the first taste. And every year they were even better than I remembered. Thank you Aunt Jennie for this amazing recipe and making all my Christmas memories so delicious!

Recipe yields 36 cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for your hands)
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp pure anise extract
1/4 cup warm water

3 tbsp milk
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp pure anise extract

Multi-color nonpareil sprinkles

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Toss lightly with a fork to mix.

Add eggs and sugar to the flour mixture. Mix well until the mixture becomes crumbly. Be sure to incorporate all the flour into the mixture.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Add melted butter, anise extract and water to the batter. Stir until the mixture forms a ball and becomes thicker and easier to handle. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.

About 15 minutes before the time is up, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, coat your hands in flour and knead dough for five minutes or so.

Grease your baking sheets. Pinch off about a tablespoon of dough, roll into a log and then form a knot. Place each cookie on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.

Place cookies in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should remain pale white on the top but will be golden brown on the bottom when they are done. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, you can prepare your glaze. In a bowl, combine the sugar, milk and anise. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Be sure to scrape the sides and make sure all sugar is mixed in.

Hold the cookies upside down and dip into the glaze. Shake off any excess and arrange on a plate to dry. Let the glaze dry for 10-15 seconds and then sprinkle with the nonpareils. Be sure to wait before adding the sprinkles. If you add them right away, the colors with mix into the icing and the colors will run.

Let the icing harden completely before serving. If you are planning to make the cookies in advance, do not ice them until you are ready to serve them. They will keep 3-4 days once they are iced. If you are anything like me, the second these are iced and ready to go, they will not last more than a few hours. Enjoy!

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