Monday, December 6, 2010

Traditions! Anise Drop Cookies

I know there are traditions that are handed down through generations. There are also traditions that are cultural or religious. But when do traditions start? Sometimes they take us by surprise. Years ago when my daughter was 12, we moved to NJ from Long Island. It was a terrible time for me. I really loved living on Long Island and never wanted to move. Our house wouldn't be ready for 16 months and we lived in a rental. My kids went off to their new school everyday and, my husband went off to his new job, while I sat and felt sorry for myself.  Not a good time in my life. I needed a wakeup call. Something to remind me of all the good we had and, that in fact, our family was the most important constant in my life. Christmas was around the corner and I was not feeling the Christmas spirit. One night, about 2 weeks before Christmas, my daughter came to me, put her hand on my shoulder and asked, "we're going to make Christmas cookies aren't we mom? It won't feel like Christmas if we don't". I could hear the sadness in her voice. This was something we had done since she was very small. At that moment I realized we had created our own Christmas baking tradition. A tradition neither of us wanted to break. It started out small…me baking while my kids watched Rudolph, or Charlie Brown's Christmas. I would take a plate of freshly baked cookies to them, with some milk, while they watched their Christmas special. It gradually included my daughter helping with the baking.  Today my daughter is grown and the mother of a 6 year old daughter.  She is now passing down the Christmas baking rituals that we use to share. They usually come to my house during the Christmas holidays. I will save some cookie dough so that my granddaughter, my daughter and I can bake a batch together. Tradition…old and new so very important!
Today and for the next few posts I will be sharing some of my traditional Christmas cookie recipes.
The first recipe I will be sharing is for Anise Drop Cookies.  They make a top crust so that the cookie looks frosted.

Anise Drop Cookies

3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons anise seeds or 1 teaspoon anise extract

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the sugar gradually and continue to beat for 15 to 20 minutes.
In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Beat for an additional 3 minutes. Add the anise seeds and blend well.
Drop the dough by heaping teaspoons onto well greased cookie sheets.
Gently swirl the drops to form round cookies.
Allow to stand, uncovered, for 8 hours or overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325º degrees. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes
Do not allow them to brown. While baking the cookies will divide into 2 layers.
Remove to cookie racks to cool immediately after taking out of oven.

Beating eggs and sugar together

Anise seeds..rub in your hand to get full flavor

Flour mixed with baking powder, salt, anise seeds

Put on cookie sheets let rest 8 hours or overnight

Just baked (note the 2 layers)

These cookies are best made in cool weather….they do not turn out well if humidity is high.


  1. Your cookies look great! I wonder if I could substitute the anise for cinnamon, just to mix up the flavors. Also, I can't WAIT to start some baking traditions with my nieces. They're only 1 & 2 years old, but it's never too early!

  2. Nice looking cookies, a recipe I know I haven't tried.
    I love new and old traditions and combining as we grow and change.

  3. Traditions are so wonderful and important. Your story is lovely. I have never had anise cookies before, so I would like to try making these.