Every year my mother along with many other Italians, make their Italian Anise Cookies around the holidays. They always looked so good, and I always wished I liked them. I really wanted to like them, and every few years I would try one to see if maybe my aversion to anise flavoring had dissipated. I do have some Italian blood in me so I should like them, right? Wrong. So years ago I decided to stop trying, and to find a similar looking Italian cookie without that awful anise taste.
I tried a few different recipes before I found a fantastic recipe for Anginetti, or Italian Lemon Drop Cookies. I am not even sure where I found this recipe, but it has been a Christmas staple cookie every year since. The cookie itself has a very subtle lemon taste, and the icing looks like the regular white icing on the anise cookies, but has lemon extract. Yum.
This dough gets very sticky, and I have found over the years that they look better if you roll the dough into balls in your hands as opposed to using a cookie scoop or dropping them by teaspoonfuls.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps. lemon extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and shortening. Add eggs and lemon extract and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Drop dough onto a slightly greased cookie sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until firm and lightly brown. Allow to cool completely on wire racks.
Once the cookies are cooled, I prefer to dip the cookies upside down into the icing as opposed to frosting them. The cookies look nicer this way.
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. lemon extract
Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth. If too loose, add more confectioners sugar. If too stiff, add more water in tiny increments.
Before the icing sets completely, I add some holiday sprinkles on top.
Your fellow anise hating cookie lovers will thank you. #saynotoanise 😉