Anise cookies. I call them cookies, but in fact they’re something between cookies and meringues. Tiny, aromatic pieces of heaven that remind me of my childhood, coming back like an echo every festive season. Are they a thing in your countries? If not, you should definitely give them a go! They’re extremely easy to make and require only a few ingredients, although because they need to be left to dry for a few hours before baking they won’t serve as a good last-minute, emergency snack to go. The preparation is slightly weird, but don’t let it discourage you!
Ingredients (for quite a lot of tiny cookies, probably 100+ – never counted):
- 3 eggs
- 250 g plain flour
- 250 g icing sugar
- 1-2 heaping teaspoons of anise ground
Separate yolks and egg whites. Whisk egg whites in one bowl until they’re stiff (I recommend using an electric whisk). In another bowl, whisk yolks with sugar. Don’t worry if the yolks aren’t enough to wet all the sugar and instead of getting smooth batter you end up with dry, egg-sugary clumps – simply add 2-3 tablespoons of your whisked whites and then whisk everything until combined. Add the rest of whisked egg whites and gently stir until combined, this time using a spoon or a spatula (not an electric whisk).
Mix flour with a heaping teaspoon of anise ground in a bowl. The mixture should smell of anise, so if it doesn’t or it’s barely noticeable – add more of it. Sift the mixture into your eggs with sugar, stirring all the time with the spatula, in small (2-3 tablespoons) portions. Once all the ingredients are combined, you should be left with thick, sticky batter.
Put the batter into an icing bag with a big, round nozzle and make small cookies (~2 cm diameter) on a baking tray lined with baking paper or a silicone mat. You’ll need more than one tray. Cookies won’t grow to the sides, they’ll only get pumped up in the baking process, so there’s no need to leave huge spaces between them. Alternatively, if you don’t have an icing bag, simply use a teaspoon. Wet it with water every now and then to make the batter come off easily.
Leave in room temperature overnight or, if you’re making them in the morning, until the evening. Cookies need to be dry on the outside before you bake them. Let them dry for a minimum of 8 hours, more if you live in a very humid environment. It’s okay to leave them for even longer, if you can’t bake them after 8 hours. Mine were once left for almost 20 hours due to lack of time to bake them and still turned out great after all.
Preheat the oven to 150°C. Bake your cookies for 10-15 minutes. The longer, the harder they will be – take them off as soon as they start changing colour.
And that’s all!
Cookies stored in a closed container should remain crispy for a long time. If you feel they’re too hard after baking and want to have them soften a bit, and an apple or orange peel to the container, cookies will absorb humidity from them. If you choose to do so, replace the apple/orange peel every 1-2 days (you don’t want it to rot).