Home » Baked Goods, Desserts, Recipes, Snack » The Great Italian Cookie Caper – Part I

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A few weeks ago I had outlined the reasoning behind the Italian Cookie Caper. This winter has been an anise-flavored frenzy of cookie baking. I have made around 8 or 9 different versions of anise cookies since sometime in mid-January. I’ve studiously examined different recipes from books and online sources. I’ve combined and mixed different techniques. Each attempt is better than the one before. I’m fortunate to have an enthusiastic and critical group of taste-testers. Each taste-tester has also had a different “favorite.”

Many people would have been satisfied with the first recipe I tried. Until I made the second recipe, I was too. So, I’ve decided to share (almost) all of the versions with detailed tasting notes. Hopefully this will help you decide which is the recipe for you. Please leave your own tasting notes or new recipes in the comments. I still haven’t quite been able to surpass a Queens-bakery anise cookie – although we’ve certainly been enjoying the numerous attempts!

Trio of cookies

Left to right, recipes 1, 2 and 3

I’ve made a chart so you can readily see the comparison in ingredients and steps for each of these cookies. I’ve shared them with many friends and family. Each person had a different favorite cookie. My personal favorite is number 3.

Anise Cookie 1 Anise Cookie 2 Anise Cookie 3
1 c. sugar 1 c. sugar 1 c. sugar
½ c. unsalted butter ½ c. vegetable oil ½ cup unsalted butter
3 eggs (save 1 yolk) 3 eggs 2 eggs
1 tsp. Anise extract 1 Tbsp. Anise extract ¾ tsp. Anise extract
1 tsp. Anise seed, ground 1 Tbsp. Anise seed, ground
3 c. flour 3 ¼ c. flour 2 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp. Salt ¼ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking powder 1 Tbsp. Baking powder 2 tsp. Baking powder
1 ½ oz. Brandy
½ tsp. Vanilla extract
Anise Seed

Crush the anise seed into a powder.

Preheat oven to 375 F

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper/foil/silpat

Preheat oven to 375

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper/silpat

Preheat oven to 350 F

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper/foil/silpat

Cream butter and sugar Beat sugar and butter
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and reserving one yolk Beat together oil, eggs, sugar and anise extract. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition
Combine brandy, anise extract and vanilla in small bowl.
In another bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
Add flour, salt, baking powder and anise. Combine flour and baking powder; add to egg mixture. Alternately add dry ingredients and brandy mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients
Mix well at medium speed. Mix well to combine. Mix well to combine.
Stir in anise seed. Stir in anise seed.
0n cookie sheet, form dough into 2 flattened log shapes, approx. 2 inches wide. Wet fingers help in forming dough and shaping. Divide dough into 2 parts. Form each into a roll as long as the cookie, press into ½ inch thick Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, forming 2 strips. With wet fingers smooth and shape into logs.
Bake for 20 min. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden.
Let cool on rack. Let cool on rack. Let cool on rack. Reduce oven temp to 300 F.
Use knife to slice into 1 ½” thick slices. Use knife to slice into 1” – 1 ½” thick slices. Use knife to slice into 1” thick slices.
Place slices back on cookie sheets and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, until golden. Flip halfway through. Place slices back on cookie sheet and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, per side. Place slices back on cookie sheet and bake an additional 20 minutes, turning halfway. Bake until dry and slightly brown.
Enjoy! Dunk in coffee and savor! Yum!
drop batter by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet

Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet

Slice loaf into cookies

Slice loaf into cookies.

Tasting Notes
This recipe makes a soft cookie. It is least like a biscotti and more like a cookie. It has a nice anise flavor yet is not overpowering. This cookie is the easiest to make yet is also the driest and has the least complex flavor. It makes a very dense and crisp cookie. Perfect for dunking in coffee/tea. This cookie has the most complex flavor, yet not as strongly anise. It is light and spongy, yet also has a good crunch. It is also the most difficult to make and has the most ingredients and steps.
fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven!

2 Comments

  1. It’s cool how you do 3 anise recipes for us to try. Personally, the third one, with the brandy, is the one I like best (and my kids too!).

    Thanks again.

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