Anise Cakes

Gam's Anise CakesSpice is Nice

Have you noticed that you use particular spices at certain times of the year? I have. Some spices are a year round thing—cinnamon, cumin, thyme, and of course, salt. (What would we do without salt!) And others only make a short appearance during the holidays, then quietly go back into spice drawer obscurity.

I come from a very Scandinavian family therefore many of the things we enjoy for the holidays have a very Nordic flavor and nothing says I am a Viking more than the flavor of anise. Full disclosure: I am not a fan. It reminds me too much of black licorice, another Scandinavian obsession. Most people in my family agree. (I guess we should turn in our Longenhurden.) My sister though, loves it.

Growing up, we all had our signature Christmas cookies that my grandmother would make specifically for the lover of said cookie. My cookies were the Swedish Rosettes made by dipping irons into a thin batter, and frying the dough in hot oil. A quick dusting of powdered sugar and they were good to go. So good! (I mean, how can you go wrong with fried food?)

My sister’s signature cookies are Anise Cakes. They were hers because she loved them, and because no one else would eat them. Her cookies were always the last ones left on the table at Christmas Eve, but it wouldn’t have been Christmas without them. And, of course, there were the requisite pronunciation jokes. Were kids after all!

These hard cookies are meant to be dunked into coffee or tea, like biscotti–only a little bit more dense. If you love the flavor of licorice, give these a try with your morning coffee.

Anise Cakes
Makes 6 dozen 2-inch cookies

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 cups sifted (see Note) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp Anise seeds

Beat the eggs and sugar at high speed for 1/2 hour.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and add them to the egg mixture. Add the anise seeds.

Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness on a lightly floured board. Cut with cookie cutters (stars, hearts or bells). Let stand 12 hours (or overnight). Cakes will get hard crust while standing. Do not cover.

Bake in 350ª F oven for 12 minutes.

Note: Sift the flour before measuring.

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