There's nothing I love more than hand-written recipes. Back before Pinterest was a thing, people used to clip recipes from newspapers and magazines and exchange their favorite dishes with recipe cards. So when one of my co-workers shared his grandmother's famous anise cookies with me, I squealed with delight. Loaded with chopped candied fruit, pecans, and a hint of whiskey, these Italian anise cookies make great Christmas cookies and Easter cookies as well as any-day-of-the-week cookies.

Aunt Rita's Anise Cookies are a Passed-Down Family Recipe

Daryk Ganske

This recipe is a favorite all year long according to Daryk Ganske, Social Media Manager of Wide Open Spaces and Alt-Driver. Made by his grandmother Carol, these crispy cookies get their anise flavor from pure anise extract mixed into the dough. "Extracts are expensive, but don't buy "imitation"; you need to use pure extracts," she claims, as she makes the dough in her food processor. Unlike imitation extracts which use various ingredients to make the extract, pure extracts are made by dissolving the oil of anise seeds in alcohol. Although it may be a tad pricer, pure extracts are 100% worth the price.

How To Make Anise Cookies

Daryk Ganske

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Start by chopping the pecans and candied nuts in a food processor until fine and transfer to a mixing bowl. To the bowl add the all-purpose flour and baking powder and combine. In a large bowl, cream room temperature unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy with a mixer.

Add in anise extract and whiskey, then with the mixer running on medium speed, add the large eggs one at a time, mixing fully between each addition. You can always substitute brandy or lemon juice in place of the whiskey. Add the flour mixture and mix on low to combine.

Daryk Ganske

Shape the cookie dough into two logs (or one giant one!) and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake until browned, about 20 minutes. Let cool, then slice loaves diagonally into slices about 1 1/2" thick. Using a bread knife works great for this! Place the slices back on the cookie sheet and bake until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

The licorice flavor comes through beautifully, making this Italian cookie recipe a favorite on any holiday cookie tray.

Watch: You Can Finally Have Crispy Edges on Every Brownie Piece With This Brownie Pan

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Anise Cookies 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes

servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 oz candied fruit
  • 2 cups pecans
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp anise extract
  • 3 Tbsp whiskey
  • 6 eggs

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Chop the pecans and candied nuts in a food processor until fine and transfer to a mixing bowl. To the bowl add the all-purpose flour and baking powder and combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream room temperature unsalted butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in anise extract and whiskey, and with the mixer running on medium speed, add the large eggs one at a time, mixing fully between each addition.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low to combine.

Shape the cookie dough into two logs and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake until browned, about 20 minutes.

Let cool, then slice loaves diagonally into slices about 1 1/2" thick. Using a bread knife works great for this! Place the slices back on the cookie sheet and bake until browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.