Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Italian Anise Cookies


One of my best memories of living in Boston area is the Italian bakeries there. Oh, I never knew such a wonderful variety of exciting foods existed until I moved there. I had moved from a country town in New Hampshire to a city of over 250,000. Food that was both beautiful and delicious! I had found culinary heaven.

In the midst of my travels, I discovered a wonderful Italian cookie, full of anise flavor and so beautiful to behold. Though these cookies are sold year around, they say "spring" to me because of their brightly colored, pastel sprinkles and pale yellow cookie. My Italian friends zealously guarded their recipes, saying their recipe was given to them by their mother, mother-in-law, grandmothers, and never to be shared outside of the family. So, for many years, I relied on the local bakeries to satisfy my cookie cravings.



I gave up any hope of finding a recipe like the cookies I missed. Many called themselves Italian anise cookies but none were what I remembered. And then, one day, quite serendipitously I found it on cooks.com. The flavor, the texture, the colors are exactly what I recalled. I have made this recipe many times, have shared with friends who've said, "What bakery did you say these came from?"

Italian Anise Cookies (also called Angeliones)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon of any of the above extracts
nonpareils (sprinkles)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet or line the sheet with parchment paper.

First melt the shortening and butter; cool. In a separate, medium-sized, bowl combine eggs, sugar, anise, lemon, and vanilla flavorings. Blend in melted shortening and butter mixture. Sift and the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and add to wet ingredients. Mix well until a soft dough is formed. After this point, you may want to chill the dough to make it easier to work with. Place spoonful of dough on cookie sheet. The dough spreads to about twice its size, so leave plenty of space. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.

In the meantime, make the glaze. Combine the glaze ingredients, adding enough milk to achieve desired consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the warm cookies and immediately sprinkle with nonpareils as the glaze will quickly harden.

Makes about 5 dozen, 2-inch cookies.

These cookies have the best flavor after they've been allowed to ripen a bit.

So good! I hope you enjoy them, too.

41 comments:

  1. These look so delicious, I may make them for Easter.

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    Replies
    1. Italians usually only make these for holidays like Easter! Just so happens you can buy them now in bakeries..but never as good as real homemade ones! :-)

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  2. Those cookies are so pretty. I love your tiered serving plates, so lovely.

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  3. These are a beautiful cookies! I'd love a few right now!

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  4. These really are pretty and perfect for spring!

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  5. Thank you, Ladies, for your nice comments. I really enjoy these cookies.

    Anj, Sweetie-Pi bought me the three-tiered serving plate while we were out thrifting. At first I didn't want it because I thought I'd never find a use for it, but now, I just love it.

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  6. They look really yummy Katy!

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  7. I have never tasted an anise cookie. I really feel like I've been missing out! They look great!

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  8. Saving this and making them soon!!
    YUM!

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  9. What lovely little cookies! The glaze and sprinkles make them irresistable. What is the texture of the cookie like? They appear to be soft and tender since they are so thick, but I'm just guessing.

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  10. Tammy, they are soft-crumbly if you know what I mean. Not hard like biscotti, not soft like a sugar cookie. Hard to describe. They are somewhere in between. In a way, I suppose, like a biscuit, but not so flaky, more compact, but a lot more flavor!

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  11. I love the sprinkles! This recipe sounds sooo tasty! I have bookmarked this to make soon!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Finsmom, I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. I love the sprinkles, too. They make the cookies look like such a happy little cookie!

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  13. Thank you for stopping by.... I just love this cookies

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  14. This recipe sounds delicious and I'd like to give it a try. I'm a bit confused though, I thought butter and shortening were the same thing? What is the difference? Would it be possible to only use butter? Thank you for sharing!

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  15. these look wonderful and they remind me of my anginetti.
    i can't wait to try them but first i have a question: No eggs or is that a typo?
    thank you!
    ValerieSara

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  16. Valerie, I cannot believe I omitted the eggs from both the ingredient list and the directions!!! Dagnab it, usually I go back and count the number of ingredients to ensure I didn't miss anything. Apparently i didn't do it this time or was too quick in counting.

    Thank you sooo much for your good eyes and for asking the question!!

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  17. ahh! too funny! well, i'm glad i mentioned it to you then! i have done the same thing in transcribing a recipe.
    btw, with the addition of the 4 eggs, this is exactly my recipe for ANGINETTI, passed down to me from my mother and her mother who were both born in italy. just one little thing is different:
    the authentic recipe calls for lard instead of shortening, as they don't use shortening in italy.
    my mother would replace the lard with olive oil or simply more butter. tastes identical!
    your blog is awesome and now i'm going to have fun reading your great recipes!

    thanks for your quick response,
    ValerieSara

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  18. Valerie, I am so thrilled to hear that this recipe is identical to your family's. I love, love, love these cookies.

    I'm going to do the same as your family, swap out the shortening for butter!

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  19. i'm so happy that you are so pleased! i adore these cookies. you will not be disappointed using all butter, i assure you.
    *
    now, i will give you a nice tip:
    in the dough, sometimes my mother and grandmother would use ONLY lemon extract, about 2 or 3 tsp. Or instead of extract, they would use the juice and zest of 1/2 a large fresh lemon.
    in the glaze, they would use a touch of lemon extract or fresh lemon juice. these are called LEMON ANGINETTI and they are wonderful.
    i have another family recipe for Ricotta Anginetti. if you are ever interested, i'll be happy to share it with you!
    ValerieSara.

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  20. Lemon! Now that is truly inspired! I love just about lemon anything, so you KNOW I will be making these with lemon. My mouth is watering at the idea! I can almost smell and taste these now.

    I don't know what Ricotta Anginetti are but I am very intrigued and I think they must be very good if you are recommending them. Unfortunately, I do not have an email account set up for my blog or I would ask you for the recipe.

    You are kind to make such a generous offer. I clicked on your name and you have a profile, but no blog?

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  21. you are most welcome and i know you are going to adore Lemon Anginetti!

    no, i don't have a blog.
    here's the recipe, regardless.
    i hope you and your readers enjoy it:
    *************
    This is one of the biscotto you see adorning those beautiful, Italian biscotti trays, at weddings and festive events!

    LEMON RICOTTA ANGINETTI
    1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    2 eggs
    1 pound OR a 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
    2 TABLESPOONS (not a typo) pure vanilla
    zest of 1 fresh lemon
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda
    4 cups all-purpose flour

    Method:
    Cream butter, sugar, and eggs with mixer, just for a couple of minutes.
    Add ricotta, vanilla and lemon zest. Mix just until incorporated.
    In a large bowl, stir together baking powder, baking soda and flour.
    Add flour mixture to ricotta mixture and mix together. Leave dough in the mixing bowl.
    Dough is very sticky. Drop (do not form) by small teaspoonfuls, each spaced 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined cookie sheet.
    In preheated 350 degree oven, bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown. Do not over bake.
    Place cookie sheet on cooling rack for a few minutes, then carefully remove cookies and allow them to thoroughly cool on cooling racks.
    Apply ICING and tiny-ball-sprinkles when cool.
    Makes approximately 88 (not a typo) cookies.

    ICING:
    1 1/2 cups Confectioners' sugar
    5 tbs milk
    1/4 tsp lemon extract

    Method:
    Mix with fork until smooth. Apply to tops using a pastry brush. Scatter sprinkles over wet icing. Allow Icing to thoroughly dry.

    Store Anginetti in metal tins, lined with wax paper or parchment
    paper. As with most biscotti, do not store in plastic containers.

    As a point of interest, biscotti/biscotto is what Italians call any cookie, regardless if the biscotti is once or twice baked.

    Enjoy,
    ValerieSara

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  22. Ah, this sounds so good! I am afraid that folks will not see your recipe here, so I'll plan to make these, post, and credit to you! I'm not sure when I can get to this, as 88 cookies are a LOT and I do not have family to share these with. Also I work primarily at home so I do not have work colleagues on a daily basis either.

    Am I safe in presuming these cookies are a good keeper? Could I make them on a Sunday and they would still be delicious on a Wednesday or a Thursday?

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  23. cut the recipe in half.
    they will stay fresh in the tin with a piece of wax paper on the bottom of the tin and a piece on top of the biscotti.
    don't frost them until the day you plan to serve them. this is a moist biscotti and the sprinkles will bleed and the icing may weep (become sticky) which would be a shame.

    i think you will be very pleased with these!

    ValerieSara

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  24. Oh my goodness! One of my favorite cookies! I always get my Angeliones fix from an Italian Deli near my old house which is now 50 miles away. I never thought finding the recipe, let alone baking them myself, but now that I have two recipes, I can save a ton on gas on making the trip to buy them. Besides, the deli charges about $8.99 per pound for these goodies. I'm so excited!

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  25. This recipe was a goldmine to me as well. I get such a thrill out of sharing recipes that people will love and keep. I am so very very pleased that you found this!

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  26. My Italian hubby's aunt always brought these cookies to our house when she visited. She gave me her recipe, which is different from yours. I've never seen one that uses all 3 flavors together. Very interesting.

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  27. These are my favorite cookies.....as another poster commented, I was taught to make these with lemon AND orange zest in place of the anise... I love them this way.. with a little lemon juice in the frosting as well. Mine don't come out as soft as I'd like. so I'm going to try this recipe... thanks...

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  28. I know this is an old entry, but I found this while googling the recipe and I just wanted to say thank you! It's perfect.

    I used to make these with my great-grandmother when I was little, she would bake and I would glaze/sprinkle. She passed away in 1999 and I never made them since; when I bit into the first cookie just now I actually got tears in my eyes because it brought me right back to those days in her kitchen. So I just wanted to say thank you, I will definitely continue to use this recipe in the future!

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  29. Ever since my cousins grandmother passed we have been looking for her recipie for the Angeliones. Somehow, we misplaced it. It was brought over somewhere around 1915 or so from Italy. The only difference we can see is the shortening. We will certainly try this recipie for the holidays.

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  30. Rosie, Toni28, thank you so much for your sweet comments. You made my day!

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  31. Katy,
    I just want to take a moment and Thank You SOOOOO Very Much for sharing!
    Valerie, thank you also!
    My Great Aunt was from France and 3times a year I would go with my father to see her. She lived quite a few hours away.
    When we would get there Dad would help her son around the property and she and I would spend those next 5 hours in the kitchen.
    There would be at least a dozen bowls sometimes more of already prepared cookie dough. My favorite of all times was the anise cookies! I tried for years to figure that receipe out and never quite got it right! You are the best! I now have that little bit of my Auntie Stella with me once again! Thank you!

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  32. Dear Anonymous, Thank you for your lovely note! I know how much I wanted this recipe and when I found it, I was delighted to share. Bless Autie Stella and you :)

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  33. Dear Anonymous,
    Ahh so this recipe is also made in France! How interesting! I'm happy that this recipe brings you to a place in your heart close to your Auntie Stella. Merry Christmas! Valerie

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  34. perrogal@hughes.netJanuary 9, 2011 at 2:07 AM

    Katy, I used to have a recipe for Italian beehive cookies and lost it, this sounds like it may be the same, but I'm wondering if this dough could be rolled and coiled like a beehive? My Italian neighbor gave me this recipe when I was about 26, I'm now 71, I had the recipe up to a few years ago. I will try your recipe and let you know if it works if I don't hear from you. thanks for sharing.....Robin

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  35. to Perrogal@hughes.net. that is how I make my cookies (rolled into a behive shape)..that's how my mother-in-law taught me. My recipe is a bit different, but I'm going to try these too..

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  36. OOOH those look delightful!!! Your recipes always do!!

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  38. Hi just going insane trying to find the recipe where it calls for lemon extract an orange juice, I love the anise flavor but my kids like it with the more citris flavored taste. Can anyone help me dont want to look foolish when taking them to the in laws who are dying to try a real italian cookie... Email me please... @ nenacruz818@gmail.com Thank you to you all..

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  39. I made these (anise) for Christmas 2012 and now I'm addicted. I'm making another batch right now. It's the perfect cookie for coffee, IMHO. They keep very well; I was still eating the Christmas batch after New Year's.

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    1. Todd, these ARE addictive aren't they? I haven't made them in a while because I can't stay away from them, but you're sooo right--they are perfect with a cuppa. I love to sit in my little bay window in my kitchen, stare out across the fields, cup in one hand, cookie in the other and ponder. Puts the whole world in perspective it seems.

      You have put a smile on my crabby old face. Thank you!

      Blessings,
      Katy

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