Almond Butter Cookies with Anise

Rome never sleeps. Beyond its many blocks of government ministry offices is a neighborhood complete unto itself: cheese shops; groceries and produce shops; hardware and motorcycle accessories stores; wineshops; shops selling hosiery, linens, discount clothing; and bread bakeries and pastry shops. The pastry shop on via Barletta is open 24 hours a day.

At a restaurant around the corner and a few blocks away, we were served ring-shaped almond butter cookies (a ciambella) along with a sweet red dessert wine. Unfortunately, we left without the recipe. So good was just the memory of this cookie that we were forced to reconstruct it once we had returned home. Here is our recipe.–Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber

LC Almighty Aniseed Note

What sets these cookies apart from any number of other butter cookie recipes is the inclusion of a generous tablespoon anise seeds. Not only is the flavor of aniseed (as it’s otherwise known) a palate-pleaser, the spice purportedly has many medicinal properties. Don’t take our word for it.  Noted 16th-century botanist John Gerard had this to say:

The seed wasteth and consumeth winde, and is good against belchings and upbraidings of the stomacke, alaieth gripings of the belly, provoketh urine gently, maketh abundance of milke, and stirreth up bodily lust.

Best whip up a batch, stat.

Almond Butter Cookies with Anise Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 35 M
  • Makes 15-20 3-inch cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup blanched almonds
  • Scant cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole anise seeds
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  • 1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  • 2. In a food processor, pulverize the almonds with 1/4 cup sugar until finely ground. Combine the almond mixture, flour, baking powder, salt, and anise seeds in a large bowl and combine.
  • 3. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and remaining sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix thoroughtly. Add 1/3 of the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining dry mixture in 2 additions.
  • 4. Drop the butter cookie batter by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared sheet. (Or you can pipe them out as 3-inch-diameter rings with a pastry bag and a plain tip. If the batter is stiff and difficult to pipe, loosen it up by adding a beaten egg white.)
  • 5. Bake until the butter cookies just begin to turn golden brown at the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Watch them carefully. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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