Wishfully, nervously thinking Italian

anisetteToday’s experiment turned out surprisingly well from my perspective. Terry Poplava requested that I make these cookies a couple of weeks ago, but for one reason or another I wasn’t able to take a crack at the recipe until this morning.

And while I normally love cookie requests (I directly asked Terry  to give me his suggestion, as a matter of fact), it’s fair to say that this one intimidated me.

First, I had to ask him to repeat the word anisette because I’d never heard of it. Not a good start.

Second, I also feel like Jen Borgo knows good biscotti from crummy biscotti, and I don’t know the first thing about biscotti. Is biscotti supposed to be crummy, for example? Should there be any “give” in the finished product, or are my old fillings and sensitive gums fully responsible to bear the brunt of the vigorous mastication required before digestion? And is anisette toast a type of biscotti–a biscotti wanna-be–or does it own its own well-respected culinary biscuit category?

Third, there’s the invitation. I need some words. What is a serving of anisette toast called? Do I offer my guests a slice of anisette toast, or would it be safer to point to the plate of these things (are they anisette toast cookies or anisette toasts) and let gobblers conceptualize portions sans verbiage. How does one talk about them?

Fourth, and finally, with due apology to Jen and Terry and to loyal Friday Cookie eaters campus-wide, I also can’t help worrying about Sayaka Alessandra’s mother, Francesca Edesia, whose blog, sicilyselfies.wordpress.com, is glorious and who has written to say nice things about my Lemon Italian Cookies.

What will she think?

Is it okay that I dipped some of these in milk chocolate? The recipe didn’t call for it, but it also didn’t seem right to have such a plain offering on the final Friday of the semester.

Enough tut-tutting. It was a fun morning. My gums are fine. And I think the treats taste great.  I hope you’ll enjoy this morning’s sweet, licorice-y crisps with your morning coffee.

Happy Friday!

Come and get ’em.

P.S.  Writing about them was fun, but eating them is a real treat. They are delicious.


Anisette Toast (from allrecipes.com)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 tsp. anise extract

Preheat an oven to 350 °F. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside. Grease 2 baking sheets.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated, then another. Beat in last egg along with anise extract. Mix in the flour until just incorporated. Divide the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Form each portion into a 12-inch long log, 1/2-inch thick.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden and firm to the touch, 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool 5 minutes. Cut into 3/4-inch thick slices using a serrated knife, and place cut-side-down onto the baking sheets. Return to the oven, and bake 5-10 minutes until the bottoms turn golden brown. Turn the cookies over, and continue baking until golden brown on the other side, 5-10 minutes more. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.


4 Comments on “Wishfully, nervously thinking Italian

  1. Oh, my goodness, blasphemy! Ha-ha, I’m only kidding. Of course it’s alright to dip them in milk, we wouldn’t normally do it here in Sicily…we would dip them in a cappuccino or in wine. I personally dip them in tea. By the way, these are my favorite Sicilian cookies. When I lived in New York I often had tea in the morning with Stella D’Oro Anisette, so imagine my surprise when I saw your recipe. I will definitely try it. Thank you so much for mentioning me. I’m very sorry for the delay in answering you. I only saw your message today. Mille scuse!!! Bravissima!


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