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Cookies without Nuts
Italian Anisette Cookies
Italian Anisette Cookies (with vegetable oil, milk and anise extract)
Originated from: Southern Italy
Occasion: Special times
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For Cookie Dough [Makes about 20 cookies]

2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons anise extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting

1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon anise extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

In another bowl mix egg, anise extract, vanilla extract, milk and oil together.

Mix dry ingredients with liquids until the dough is sticky.

Moisten your hands a little with oil, then form 1 inch balls (or a touch bigger -- 1 1/2 inches) with the dough.

Place the balls of dough 2 inches apart on a greased [aluminum] cookie sheet (or one lined with a silicon baking mat).

Flatten the tops of the cookies a little.

Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile make the icing -- blend the water, anise extract and icing sugar together until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the cookies from the oven and brush the warm cookies with the icing.


* To get uniform-sized cookies one can use a measuring container prior to shaping the ball of dough. For smaller-sized cookies an 1/8 cup measuring cup might be O.K., though this, in my opinion, will produce cookies that are far too small; ideally, the container should be in between 1/8 cup and 1/4 cup. So, the best thing to do is to find a container that holds that amount of material [e.g. a liqueur glass] and then use that container to measure the dough prior to shaping it. A small-sized ice cream scoop is a popular utensil used to make cookies.


There are dozens of Italian Anisette Cookie recipes on the world-wide web. The ingredients are more or less the same except for two things -- some recipes use butter while others use oil; some top the cookies only with icing, others top them both with icing and multi-colored candy sprinkles. Also, some recipes include vanilla and/or lemon extract and others do not. Most recipes are advertised as "Christmas cookies." It's possible those recipes that use vegetable oil originated in the South, while those that use butter originated in the North. Prior to World War II Northern Italians baked a variety of cookies and cakes for the Christmas holidays, but generally speaking Southern Italians did not. Their Christmas desserts were fried (Baked goods were too expensive). So it's likely that anisette cookies are part of the Christmas tradition in the North, but not in the South. Nowadays, of course, anisette cookies are made all year round in most regions of Italy. These cookies are easy to make but are rather on the ordinary side.... Photo: Mary Melfi.

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