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Cookies without Nuts
Italian Anisette Cookies
Italian Anisette Cookies (with butter, anise and lemon extract)
Originated from: Northern Italy
Occasion: Christmas holidays
Contributed by: Mary Melfi

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For the cookie dough (Makes about 20 cookies)

2 cups flour
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 to 2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons anise extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

For the icing

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

For decorating tops of candies

Multi-colored candy sprinkles


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, and butter together.

Mix dry ingredients with liquids until the dough is sticky (Add another egg if it's not sticky enough).

Moisten hands with oil and form dough into 1 inch balls [or a touch bigger, about 1 1/2 inch balls]. *

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 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.

Decorate with candy sprinkles.


* 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 into a ball.


The use of butter suggests this recipe originated from the North. Italian anisette cookies are often described as "Christmas" cookies. It's possible that prior to World War II Italians may have limited their consumption of these cookies to the holidays, but nowadays they are made year round. Photo: Mary Melfi.

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