I will be the first to admit that keeping up with the "Twelve Cookies of Christmas" idea has been quite difficult. Between work, holiday parties, shopping and everything else in between, I can barely find a moment to place even a toe in the kitchen, let alone hours to bake tasty treats. Luckily, this Sunday turned out to be quite a lazy day, thanks to a late night out celebrating this great beauty blog.
Looking for inspiration this morning, I perused the web for a cookie that was visually stimulating. I stumbled upon Italian Christmas Cookies on Tastespotting.com, which looked colorful, bright and happy in the post.
Excited to be back in the kitchen, the dough was a breeze to make, but the glaze on my cookies did not have the thick, opaque texture I was hoping for. I dreamed of cookies that looked and tasted like homemade animal crackers; the end result was more like a kindergarten class's group project with Play Dough and confetti. Please see the turtle creature below. Credit for that one goes out to Dan Rainwater.
Moral of the story: skip these cookies. But here's the recipe if you think you can salvage the little treats.
Italian Christmas Cookies (adapted from here)
1/2 cup margarine or butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 teaspoons anise extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
In large bowl with mixer on low speed beat margarine or butter with sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until creamy. At medium speed beat in eggs, vanilla and 1 teaspoon anise extract; constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and baking powder occasionally scrapping bowl. Dived dough into 4 parts, wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze at least one hour or refrigerate over night.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface divide 1 ball of dough into 9 equal pieces, keeping remaining dough refrigerated. With lightly floured hands, roll each piece of dough into a 7 inch long rope. Shape the cookies into your desired form (I did little pretzels, but twists looked pretty as well).
Place cookies on a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Bake cookies 10 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool. When cookies are cool, prepare glaze.
To create the glaze, mix confectioners’ sugar with 1 teaspoon anise extract and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Brush top of cookies with glaze. Add sprinkles. Set cookies aside to allow glaze to dry. ***If you are going to make these, I would think about researching a thicker, more delicious glaze to top the cookies. This one was definitely not tasty.***