Iced Anise Cookies

Anise is an ancient spice used throughout the world as a medicine, flavoring, aphrodisiac and even in magic. Drinking anise infused tea was said to increase psychic ability and keeping seeds in your pocket would ward off the evil eye. But mostly, anise  attracts. Hunters use it to lure deer, 16th century mice ate it, and fisherman sometimes rub anise oil on bait to attract fish.

Anise can be used in seed form or made into oils or extract. The difference in the two is the way they are made. To make oil, anise plants are boiled in water and the vapors are gathered and condensed. To make extract, oils of the plant are dissolved in alcohol and mixed in water, glycerol and other ingredients. So anise oil is actually stronger and if you have oil rather than extract, you’ll only need to use about a quarter of the amount extract called for in the recipe.

This recipe, inspired by a cookie I saw last week, was made with some McCormick pure anise extract I picked up at Wal*Mart. I didn’t think I’d care for it much because unlike deer, mice and fish, I’m not really into anise’s flavor, but the cookies were so pretty I wanted to bake them and take a picture. Surprise! They were delicious. Or maybe I’d just never had a really fresh frosted anise cookie? I’m not sure, but I’m looking forward to sharing them with my family of licorice lovers. If I liked the cookies, they’ll love them.


Iced Anise Cookies

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon anise extract
2 3/4 cups flour (12.5 oz)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup spowdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons milk plus extra if needed
1 1/4 teaspoon anise extract
Multi-Colored Sprinkles

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick foil.

Beat the sugar, melted butter, eggs, milk and anise extract together using low speed of a hand-held mixer.

Thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the batter and stir just until blended.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, shaping a little to form nice roundes, 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets and bake on center rack for 10 to 14 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are light golden. Cool on wire racks.

Make icing. Mix the sugar and melted butter together until the sugar is moist. Add the milk and beat well until smooth. Beat in the anise extract. It should be thick but pourable. Place a piece of paper towel under your cooling rack so that the glaze can drip through, then spoon it gently over the cookies.
Sprinkle with candy sprinkles.

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

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  1. says

    Very pretty! I bought anise extract last year to make a new to me roll out cookie recipe but then I simply got tired of making roll out cookies, so I have an un-opened container of it in the cupboard. These look like they’d be less fuss than roll out cookies and a different but welcome holiday flavor.

  2. CindyD says

    I don’t like anise (or licorice) but I bet these would be good with almond or lemon flavoring.

  3. says

    These look just like the anise cookies I make, down to the sprinkles I like to use! My recipe was passed down from my great-grandmother, and calls for buttermilk. I think they are more like a teacake. My mom used to roll them into cutouts, but I do not rolling out dough, so I do drop cookies.

  4. says

    These are allmost identical to a family recipe (in my hubby’s Italan family). His aunt would always bring them when she came to visit us, and she gave me her recipe. Sometimes she made them with vanilla instead of anise, but they were always delicious. I always loved the little sprinkles on the glaze.

  5. says

    Sue, let us know how the anise works in roll-outs.

    Cindy, I was thinking the same thing — almond, lemon, even vanilla would be good.

    Barbara, I think like the extract better than the oil. I had some oil a while back and found it to be too strong. Then again, maybe I was using too much. I’m not sure, but McCormick’s isn’t that strong.

    TechieMomster, I didn’t even think about swapping buttermilk for the milk, but it would definitely add some flavor.

    Judy, I guess the recipe is somewhat authentic, then.

  6. Jan says

    I’m so glad to see this. These are the exact cookies i’ll be baking on sunday. I’ve got to buy some flavor, so glad to know how they differ.

  7. says

    These are a little similar to the buttermilk cookies I’ve made (minus the anise, but I have used lemon), so buttermilk would be great. Now I want to find some anise extract!

  8. says

    Perfect timing! I was just looking for a cookie recipe to bake some for my dad while I’m home for the holidays, and he LOVES anise! I don’t personally care for it, but if you say they’re good, then I’ll give them a taste when I bake them in a few weeks. Great picture, too!

  9. says

    I just compared this recipe to the roll out recipe I was going to try. If I go for an anise cookie this year I’ll probably make this one because it isn’t a roll out recipe. We have a favorite roll out cookie recipe and I get tired of making them. I like this idea a lot better.
    Just in case you’re curious, here’s the roll out recipe. It has anise seeds in it too. When you made the previous recipe with anise seeds in them were you at all bothered by the anise seeds?

    German Anise Christmas Cookies
    Makes 4 dozen

    2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) butter, room temperature

    1 cup sugar

    2 eggs

    1 tablespoon anise seed
    2 teaspoons anise extract

    2 ½ cups flour

    1 teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon salt

    In large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flavorings. Combine flour, baking powder and salt and mix well, then add to creamed mixture. Cover dough and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until easy to handle.

    When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    On lightly floured surface, roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Cut with medium-size cutters and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and cool on wire rack.

    Decorate cookies with icing and crystal sugar.

  10. says

    Anise also works beautifully in rice puddings. The spanish way is to have a teaspoon anise extract (or anise liquor) when finishing the rice pudding. You don’t exactly taste it but there is a little something different going on and it’s quite pleasant !

  11. Amanda says

    I made these, and blogged about them last year. My Italian father in law was visiting and loved them 🙂 Said they reminded him of a cookie his grandma used to make : )

  12. Kim Fluck says

    I am looking forward to making these this week. I love to see a recipe like this where I already have all the ingredients at home and don’t have to go to the store first! I make another Christmas cookie (Lebkuchen) with anise as an ingredient. My instructions passed down from German Great Grandma specify we use 1/2 teaspoon of oil of anise (anise oil) in the cookies, but if we are using anise extract, we should use 1 teaspoon. So it seems the oil of anise is much stronger than the extract. Good thing because the oil of anise is quite expensive… thanks for another great looking recipe!

  13. says

    I love these! I think it’s the soft texture of the cookie, and of course the glaze. I’ve made them before, but I bookmarked this recipe in the Sun-Sentinel (I’m pretty sure you provided the link in a previous post). It sounds like a perfect version of the cookie.

  14. Kate says

    I just made these today and they were absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to serve them at my family’s BBQ tomorrow. I’m also going to tr this recpe with lemon, as we will have children who do not enjoy anise flavoring. Thanks again for the awesome recipe!

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