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Cookies without Nuts
zuccarini Italian anise cookies
Zuccarini (anise-flavored Italian knotted sugar cookies using butter, topped with icing)
Originated from: Italy
Occasion: any time and special times
Contributed by: Adapted from an Italian cookbook published in the 1960s

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for batter
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons Magic baking powder
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon anise extract

for icing
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons table cream
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon anise extract


Mix flour and baking powder. Sift both ingredients together.

In a separate bowl cream butter with sugar.

Add one egg at a time beating vigorously.

Add anise extract.

Blend dry ingredients with wet ones.

Form dough into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap.

Let it rest in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Shape ball in a long log.

Cut a small slice of dough.

Flour the dough, and then using the palms of your hands shape into a tarallini-style thin log -- about 8 inches log, 1/4 inch wide.

Tie the log into a knot.

Arrange on a well-greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between the cookies.

Bake at 375 degrees F until golden -- about 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool.

Meanwhile make the anise-flavored icing by mixing all the ingredients together, and then mixing it vigorously until the right consistency is formed.

When the cookies are absolutely cool to the touch, spread the icing on the cookies.

Allow the icing to dry for a few hours and then place the cookies in the fridge until ready to serve.


Zucccarini are part sugar cookies and part taralli dolci. Those who like anise-flavored cookies will probably like them. Be forewarned: any cookie that is presented as a knot is difficult to get right (Tying dough is not as easy as tying shoelaces!). The dough can easily break unless it is stone-hard, which it is not supposed to be. Also, when dough knots are involved, the oven heat is not evenly distributed -- some parts are over-cooked and some parts are under-cooked. That said, for those home cooks who have a lot of talent, this style of cookie is a piece of cake. For those who are not so talented, this style of cookie should be avoided. Personally, I avoid doing any cookie that doesn't use a cookie cutter unless of course, it's an almond biscotti, macaroon or amaretti. Comments and photo: Mary Melfi.

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