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
2 cups confectioners' sugar
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon of any of the above extracts
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.