Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A (really bad) Riddle

OK, here it is…
Question: What do anise cookies and I have in common?
Answer: We both make our own icing (groan-n-n-n)

Every year I make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies. Self-icing anise cookies are one of my favorites, because they do all the decorating work for me. This is a classic recipe I learned from my mom, and when I pull a pan of them out of the oven, the hot blast of anise-infused air almost knocks me over with nostalgic overload. Their pink color also makes them a great candidate for a Valentine's Day cookie. The ingredients are:

3 eggs (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 pound powdered sugar (if you don't have a scale, that's about 1 9/10 cups)
1/4 tsp. anise oil
paste food coloring (optional; I think pink complements anise, and the cookies look rather anemic without it)

Beat the eggs until they're very stiff (use a stand mixer if you have one). Add the powdered sugar gradually, beating continuously. Add the flour and anise oil; never stop beating. Add the paste food coloring to your heart's content. Hopefully you're finished baking cookies for the day because you're going to drop this batter by the teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheets and let them stand OVERNIGHT. In the morning they'll look like this:
And after you bake them for 6 to 8 minutes in a 350 degree oven, they'll look like this:
See how they've made their own icing? They look like little flat mushrooms. Here's another view of them cooling on a rack:
Incidentally, I've had this recipe fall apart when it's raining out; the icing won't properly develop when the humidity is high. They're delicious from the instant they're slid off the pan; have a hot cup of coffee or tea on standby so you can enjoy them while they're warm. On Christmas Eve, we even left a few out for Santa…
I hope you give this recipe a try! Let me know what you think…

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