Dec 3, 2010

Iced Anise Cookies



These are an Italian Anise cookie and are customary around Christmas. I thought they were really good and in the future I will try them with other extracts like lemon and vanilla. They have a cake like texture and are actually quite small, like bite-sized cookies. They look beautiful with the colored sprinkles on them. I thought of little twinkling Christmas lights and among the other cookies on the exchange table these cookies looked really bright and colorful. 

Anise, is a tricky flavoring. People either love it or  hate "strongly dislike" it. I love it, for those of you that don't know...anise tastes similar to black licorice. Even if you don't like licorice you should really give these little gems a try. Don't worry it isn't like eating a piece of black licorice, more like eating a cookie that has been hanging around black licorice all day. 

Of all the cookies I brought these were the only ones that I took a few home. I made between 4-5 dozen so the fact that I went home with about 6 cookies isn't that big of deal. I knew that this cookie wasn't for everyone, but I'm glad I brought something a little different and unusual. I love to surprise all the ladies in my recipe group with a burst of flavor for their taste buds.

Let me know if you try these cookies and what you think about them. Oh, if you use salted butter in any of the cookie recipes just decrease the amount of salt in the cookies by about 1/4 teaspoon, otherwise, they might be too salty.

Iced Anise Cookies
adapted slightly from Cookie Madness
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon anise extract
2 3/4 cups flour (12.5 oz)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 scant teaspoon salt
Icing:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons milk plus extra if needed
1  teaspoon anise extract
Multi-Colored Sprinkles
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick foil.
Beat the sugar, melted butter, eggs, milk and anise extract together using low speed of a hand-held mixer.
Thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the batter and stir just until blended.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoons, shaping a little to form nice rounds, 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets and bake on center rack for 10 to 14 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are light golden. Cool on wire racks.
Make icing. Mix the sugar and melted butter together until the sugar is moist. Add the milk and beat well until smooth. Beat in the anise extract. It should be thick but pourable. Place a piece of paper towel under your cooling rack so that the glaze can drip through, then spoon it gently over the cookies.
Sprinkle with candy sprinkles.
Makes 4-5 dozen cookies.

Lime Stars



These lime stars are amazing. They are slightly crisp on the edges and really chewy. They have a LOT  of lime flavor. They cookies use both zest and juice in dough. I really liked how they tasted like summer, they were so fresh tasting among all the dense, rich, filling flavors of winter/Christmas. Plus, limes are in season now so they are inexpensive and have a ton of flavor.

This is a Martha Stewart recipe and you can cut out the cookies in any shape that you want. WARNING: This cookie dough is really soft! Please be aware that you may have to put it in the freezer often. You roll the dough between layers of parchment. I found that after rolling the dough out I placed it back in the freezer for a few minutes and then cut the stars on the parchment, I then removed the scraps of dough and left the stars in the original places that I cut them and put that piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and into the oven.

I'm not going to lie...the dough was a little tricky to work with and more than once I became frustrated. However, upon tasting the final result I can honestly say that I would make these again in a heartbeat. They are so goooooood. I love citrus/lime flavors and I felt that these cookies were a home-run. Apparently all the other cookie eaters at the exchange did as well because I made a double batch of these and I didn't even get one at the cookie exchange.


INGREDIENTS

Makes about 2 dozen.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes total)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Put granulated sugar and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Add butter, and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla and lime juice. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10-inch disk, and wrap each in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Working with 1 half at a time, roll out dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Cut shapes from dough with a 3-inch flower-shape cookie cutter. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cut a hole in center of each with a 1-inch round cutter. Repeat with remaining disk. Wrap scraps in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes; re-roll, and cut.
  5. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Before serving, sift confectioners' sugar over cookies. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.


Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies (Chocolate Peppermint Sandwiches)

I brought these cookies to a cookie swap. It just so happened that THREE other people brought chocolate peppermint cookies as well. These were delicious even amongst the other chocolate peppermint cookies.
I used Dutch-processed cocoa so my cookies were dark in color and really had a deep chocolate flavor. The peppermint buttercream was so good, I had to stop myself from eating it with a spoon. I rolled my cookies in candy cane pieces, but if I was going to make these again I don't think I would go to the hassle. The candy cane pieces looked pretty, but were kind of a pain (they wouldn't stick on the frosting very well) and didn't add anything to the overall taste of the cookie.  Also, I added a lot more powdered sugar to my filling. I felt that the filling as written was a little greasy, so I added a cup or so more of powdered sugar. It ended up being a creamy dreamy peppermint filling. Yummy.



adapted slightly from Bon App├ętit 

Yield: Makes about 18 sandwich cookie

Ingredients 

Cookies
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

Filling
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (I used 2+ cups)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

1/2 cup crushed red-and-white-striped candy canes or hard peppermint candies (about 4 ounces)
preparation
For cookies:
Whisk flour, cocoa, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by level tablespoonfuls, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of glass or hands, flatten each ball to 2-inch round (edges will crack). Bake until cookies no longer look wet and small indentation appears when tops of cookies are lightly touched with fingers, about 11 minutes (do not overbake or cookies will become too crisp). Cool on sheet 5 minutes. Transfer chocolate cookies to racks and cool completely.

For filling:
Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by dropfuls if darker pink color is desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with remaining cookies and peppermint filling.
Place crushed candy canes on plate. Roll edges of cookie sandwiches in crushed candies (candies will adhere to filling). (Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.)