I don’t know a lot about these cookies or why they’re called Italian cookies. I know I didn’t have anise extract (and I don’t like the flavor of anise anyway) so I used vanilla instead. I found the cookies to be a little on the drab side, so with that in mind, after two big trays of vanilla flavored cookies, I folded in some mini chocolate chips and made two big trays of those. I prefer the ones with the chocolate chips in them, but I like the fun of the sprinkles on the vanilla cookies. And the kids seemed to love them both because they sure disappeared in record time.
I really don’t think I’ll be baking these again. Sorry, creator of the Italian cookie. Nothing personal, but it was too tedious rolling all those tiny little balls of dough, then having to dip each cookie individually into the glaze. I just don’t feel like I got a big enough payoff in flavor. Granted, the fault was probably mine by not using anise extract in the first place, so if you like the flavor of anise, I’d say give it a try and let me know how you like them. I bet they just needed that stronger flavor to turn them into a keeper, because they got great reviews over at Tasty Kitchen.
Recipe: Italian Cookies
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. vegetable shortening
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3 c. all-purpose flour
5 tsp. baking powder (Yes, you really want 5 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. anise extract ~ vanilla or lemon extract are other options
2 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
2-4 Tbsp. milk
Melt butter and shortening together. Add the sugar; mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the anise extract.
Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture gradually. If the dough is too sticky to roll in the palm of your hand, add flour until firmer, but the dough should still be very soft.
Roll the dough in small ball and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. The bottom should be lightly browned and the top. (I found this time/temp. overcooked my first batch, so I baked the rest at 350 degrees for 6 minutes and they were perfectly baked.) Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
Mix milk gradually into confectioner’s sugar and whisk to make a thick glaze. Dip the top of each cookie into glaze and sprinkle with jimmies or nonpareils while still wet.
Makes about 100 cookies if you roll 1/2″ balls.
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