"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Cookies: Anise Twist Cookies


    This is my most treasured and special cookie recipe.  These twist cookies growing up were simply known as Zia's cookies because they were my dearly departed aunt's specialty.  She would come over to my mother's house by request and spend an afternoon cranking dozens and dozens of them out so that my mom could have a decent stash in the freezer for when company came around (but really we  probably ate them all before any company actually came around).  They were THAT good and she was the only one who could make them.  Not only did they taste great, they were mixed, rolled and twisted to perfection, whereas you can see in my photo some of my cookies have little cracks or craters, hers were completely smooth and gorgeous.

Unfortunately, I was never able to learn straight from the master how to make them.  I assumed I had lots of time to get to it, life had other plans...  She passed away before I had the chance.  I had her recipe and was determined to keep her memory alive through them.   It took a lot of trial and error! A lot of tears and frustration and tons of wasted flour & eggs but I finally got them down.  I won't lie and say these are a snap or "doddle" (as Nigella would say) to make but they are so worth the effort!

My heart hurts a lot that she's no longer with us.  I wish she could come over to my new home and share a baking marathon afternoon with me.  I miss her so much.  I find myself thinking about her a lot this time of year and always when I make these cookies.  Her memory and her sweetness live on in this recipe.

I buy my anise extract at Bulk Barn.  You will need it for the cookie dough and the icing / glaze
Cookies just out of the oven.  They don't have the icing on them yet.  The glaze is a just another opportunity to get more anise flavour into the cookie, but if you wish you can leave them plain like this,  my mother actually prefers them plain.

Anise Twist Cookies

1/2 Cup Vegetable oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
  • Add the above ingredients into a medium size mixing bowl and whisk by hand until well combined with a fork
  • Then to the this egg mixture add:
2 cups Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Anise Extract
1/2 tsp Salt

  • mix well with a fork until mixture forms a soft dough.  This is where it can get a little tricky.  Sometimes 2 cups of flour is perfect, sometimes the dough is just too sticky to roll and I find I need to sprinkle in a little more flour.  You want to make sure not to add too much flour or else the cookies will be too dry and rolling them won't work. You want to stop adding flour (if the dough is too sticky initially) just until you have a soft dough thats manageable and easy to roll
  • On a clean wood board pinch off walnut size amounts of dough and roll into a ball
  • Roll the ball onto the board into a dowel and then twist the 2 ends together
  • You could just bake off the cookies from rolled balls but the best part about the cookies are  twisted look.  So pretty!
  • Bake in a 350 oven 10-13 mins or until the bottoms are a light gold brown and the tops are just browning slightly  
  • cool on wire rack until easy to handle

2 Cups Icing Sugar
2 tsp Anise Extract
-just enough hot water (from a recently boiled kettle) 

  • Add the icing sugar to a large mixing bowl and add the extract
  • Add enough hot water until you have a very runny thin consistency  
  • Dip each cookie one by one into the icing just so the cookie is submerged on top ( not dipping entire cookie)
  • pull cookie out of icing and with your index finger wipe off excess icing and repeat until all cookies are done
  • leave cookies on wire rack until the icing is completely dried



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