Anise is an acquired taste for some people, but I absolutely love the flavor and history of this spice. Originally cultivated in the Middle East, it has a strong, licorice taste that works in both sweet and savory recipes. Its provenance explains why this particular cookie is a traditionally Spanish confection, as the Iberian peninsula was conquered by the Umayyads in the 8th century where disseminated their culture among the caliphate. Even after they were sacked, the Umayyad rule over the Iberian peninsula had lasting legacies, including the use of anise in their food.
This cookie recipe also shows its traditional qualities in the slow preparation of the dough. While most modern recipes will direct that the batter should be refrigerated for around 30 minutes, the classic preparation of anise cookies spans before fridges were a common household appliance; it instead asks that the baker leave the formed cookies out for 24 hours until a skin forms on the surface of the cookie.
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon anise seeds
Yields: 24 cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minuites
Line 3 baking sheet trays with parchment paper and grease each one.
In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat eggs very lightly.
Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
Gradually add in the flour.
Finally, add the baking powder and the anise seeds.
Drop approximately 1 tablespoon of the batter on the baking sheet.
Leave 1 inch of space between the cookies.
Let the baking sheets stand at room temperature for 45 minutes or longer, up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven 350°F 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the cookies.
Bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown on the edges.
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