Hi everyone, it’s Faith from Thought 4 Food! This month Brandy and I are very excited for Christmas! I’m sure everyone has tons of fantastic holiday recipes…whether your recipes are for cookies, candy, appetizers, side dishes, casseroles, main dishes, or beverages, you can share anything that says Christmas to you. Remember, you can submit as many recipes as you want, and there will be a fantastic prize, which will be announced later this month!
Here’s the timeline that Brandy and I planned for Christmas:
11/29: Faith posts announcement and holiday recipe
12/6: Brandy posts holiday recipe
12/13: Brandy posts holiday recipe
12/19: Faith posts holiday recipe and opens up MckLinky for submissions
12/20: MckLinky closes and submissions are due at 9PM EST
12/21: Recipe round-up posted along with winner
Brandy and I will be making holiday recipes throughout month, so be sure to check out our other blogs for more holiday inspiration!
Onto my great grandmother’s Anise Drop Cookies! Recently, my mom and I were talking about Jingles, the anise-flavored Christmas cookies that Salerno used to make. (You know, those delicious buttery-tasting, anise-flavored, crisp, almost biscuit-like cookies are still made by Salerno, but they’re now known as Santa’s Favorites…but of course, they’ll always be Jingles to us! Keebler now makes the actual Jingles, but they don’t compare to Salerno’s version as far as the spicy anise flavor goes.) During Christmastime, these cookies accompany every tea time I enjoy with my mom and my sister, since these cookies are absolutely perfect alongside a festive cup of peppermint, eggnog (sounds strange I know, but it’s soooo good!), or vanilla tea.
I was telling my mom that I wanted to make homemade anise-flavored cookies, but I was in need of a good recipe. My mom pulled out her family cookbook, dusted it off, and shared her grandmother’s recipe for Anise Drop Cookies. (I was immediately intrigued since I love heirloom recipes!) My mom said that her grandmother (whose name was Genevieve, but everyone called her Nannie) always made these cookies around Christmas.
After making these cookies, I have to say they look exactly like a gorgeous French Macaron, but their flavor reminds me a great deal of Pfeffernüsse cookies. Pfeffernüsse means “pepper nuts” in German, and it seems like there are an infinite number of variations on this recipe! True to its name, many Pfeffernüsse recipes include pepper (either black or white) and ground nuts (such as almonds or walnuts). Many variations of this recipe call for dusting the still-warm cookies with powdered sugar. Some recipes use cinnamon and cloves instead of anise to flavor the cookies.
The variations don’t end with the ingredients though; the methods can also differ greatly. Some recipes call for rolling the dough into balls; other recipes require forming the dough into a log and chilling; still other recipes require that the dough be left out on baking sheets to harden overnight (which is similar to my great-grandmother’s recipe). (For more information on Pfeffernüsse, see here.)
Knowing how many Pfeffernüsse recipe variations there are, it’s possible that this recipe is another variation under a different name. Or maybe, even though these cookies call for all-purpose flour rather than almond flour, they could be considered similar to anise-flavored Macarons? Make them and tell me what you think!
These cookies rise nicely after baking and come out with a perfect “foot,” just like Macarons. They have a hard, crunchy top and a chewy, soft interior. Their anise-lemon flavor pairs perfectly with tea.
Anise Drop Cookies
(Yield: 12 cookies)
½ c sugar
2 drops anise oil
½ c flour
1 tsp anise seed
¾ tsp lemon zest
Butter, to liberally grease the baking sheet
Cream together the egg, sugar, and anise oil until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, anise seed, lemon zest, and salt. Beat the dry ingredients into the wet (the dough will be thin, almost like cake batter). Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, 1-inch apart. Let stand 12 hours or overnight (dough will harden). Bake at 300F for 20-25 minutes until the cookies are puffed and look like mushroom caps, and the bottoms are lightly golden.