Anise Cookies

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These Anise Cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie flavored with anise extract. They’re soft, cake-like cookies with a melt in your mouth glaze.

3 stacked Anise cookies with sprinkles

I received this recipe on a hand written card from one of my aunts. I always remember seeing these cookies amongst the tray at Christmas time. It’s not a cookie that’s in my regular rotation, but it was so fun to make these again, it’s been forever since I had them.

Anise cookies are soft and pillowy cake-like cookies with a glaze that just melt in your mouth. Typically, they’re flavored with Anise extract which resembled black licorice, but this can easily be swapped out for vanilla or almond extract.

These Christmas cookies are super simple to make and bake very quickly. I’ve shared a few tips in this post that might be helpful if it’s your first time making these cookies.

Anise Cookie Ingredients

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Vegetable oil
  • Anise extract (or vanilla or almond)
  • Granulated sugar
  • All-purpose flour (plus additional ½ cup as needed)
  • Baking powder

For the glaze:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Powdered sugar
  • Extract flavor of choice
  • Milk

What can I substitute for anise extract?

Anise extract resembles black licorice. If you prefer something different you can make these with vanilla, almond or even lemon extract. I made them with almond extract and used 1 ½ tablespoons of extract for the cookies

How to make Anise Cookies

  • Prep: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • Combine the wet ingredients
  • Add the sugar
  • Add the flour and baking powder and mix until the dough comes together. At this point the dough may be very sticky. If so, add additional flour, a couple tablespoons at a time and work in with your hands until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.

two side by side images of a glass mixing bowl with dough

  • Form balls of dough. I prefer smaller cookies, so I recommend approximately 2 teaspoons size, and they will puff up in the oven.
  • Place on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.Bake just until the bottom of the cookies are very light brown. See additional notes regarding the baking times, which can vary by a minute or two.

two side by side photos of Anise cookies as dough and as bakedcookies

  • Prepare the glaze: Combine the melted butter, extract and powdered sugar and whisk. As the glaze thickens, slowly add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Dip the cookies in the glaze and garnish with sprinkles

a hand dipping a cookie in a vanilla glaze

How many cookies does this make?

My aunt’s original recipe is for 6 dozen. I cut her recipe into thirds, as I didn’t need that many cookies. When making the balls of dough, I prefer them to be smaller, about 1-2 teaspoon size, then it makes 36 cookies. If you make them 1 tablespoons size, they will be fairly large, and it will yield 18-22 cookies. Baking time will need to be adjusted by 1-2 minutes.

These don’t spread much when baked, they retain their shape and puff up.

How to tell if these cookies are done?

I recommend using a silicone baking mat to provide a layer between the baking sheet and the bottom of the cookies. I baked several batches for varying amount of time to determine what was best, as even a minute different could result in the bottom of the cookies being overdone. For me, that was 6 minutes for the smaller size cookies. You may want to test a small batch in your own oven prior to baking the full batch.

The bottom of the cookie should be a very light brown color, and then pull them and immediately transfer them to a rack to cool, so the bottoms will stop cooking.

A small white cake stand with Anise cookies on it

Can you freeze anise cookies?

Yes, it is recommended that you freeze these cookies unfrosted. Prepare the cookies and freeze them in an airtight container. Thaw prior to frosting.

How to store decorated cookies

These should be stored in an airtight container. Once the glaze has been added, it will soften the cookie. They are best enjoyed within 2 days of frosting.

If you happen to be preparing them ahead of time, I would recommend that you wait to frost them until the day you plan to serve for the best results. Keep stored in an airtight container.

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An overhead view of Christmas Anise cookies

Anise Cookies

  • Author: Beyond Frosting
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 21 minutes
  • Yield: 36 cookies

Description

These Anise Cookies are a traditional Christmas cookie flavored with anise extract. They’re soft, cake-like cookies with a melt in your mouth glaze.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (plus additional ½ cup as needed)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

For the glaze

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ½1 teaspoon extract to taste (anise, vanilla or almond)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 34 tablespoons milk

Instructions

For the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients and beat until well mixed, then add the sugar and continue mixing until well combined.
  3. Next add 2 cups flour and the baking powder and mix until the dough comes together.
  4. At this point the dough may be very sticky. If so, add additional flour, a couple tablespoons at a time and work in with your hands until the dough is no longer sticky to the touch.
  5. Form balls of dough with about 2 teaspoons worth of dough and roll between your palms to form the balls. Place dough balls on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake for 5-6 minutes just until the bottom of the cookies are very light brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.

For the glaze

  1. Combine the melted butter, extract and powdered sugar and whisk. As the glaze thickens, slowly add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.
  2. Dip the top of each cookie in the glaze, gently tap on the side of the bowl to remove excess glaze and add sprinkles. Allow the glaze to harden prior to serving.

Notes

Varying amounts of flour: The amount of flour will vary depending on how sticky your dough is. Once the dough starts to form in the mixer, add additional flour 1-2 tablespoons at a time, working it with a spatula or your hands until the dough is no longer sticky between your hands.

Anise extract: Anise extract resembles black licorice. If you prefer something different you can make these with vanilla, almond or even lemon extract. I made them with almond extract and used 1 ½ tablespoons of extract for the cookies. Anise extract is very powerful, so the measured amounts will be different than if you were to use other extracts.

Glaze: You may or may not want to flavor your glaze with extract. Vanilla pairs well with anise if you used anise extract for the cookies.

Freezing instructions: You can prepare the cookies and freeze them unfrosted in an airtight container. Thaw prior to frosting.

Storing frosted cookies:  These should be stored in an airtight container. Once the glaze has been added, it will soften the cookie. They are best enjoyed within 2 days of frosting.

How many cookies does this make? If you make them smaller, about 1-2 teaspoon size, they’ll bake for 6 minutes and it makes 36 cookies.  If you make them 1 tablespoons size, they will be fairly large, and it will yield 18-22 cookies. You can easily double this recipe for larger batches.

Baking times: I baked several batches for varying amount of time to determine what was best, as even a minute different could result in the bottom of the cookies being overdone. For me, that was 6 minutes for the smaller size cookies. You may want to test a small batch in your own oven prior to baking the full batch.

 

Nutrition Information:
1 Cookie
86
8g
6mg
3g
14g
0g
1g
13mg
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Anise Cookie, Italian Cookies, Christmas Cookies

An overhead view of Christmas Anise cookies

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