Go ahead. You can check. I'll wait. Got a little time to burn today. Or not! Silly me.
But if you don't posses any anise now is the time to acquire some. Splendid stuff!
And any recipe that has been around and still used after 50 years is a winner. This recipe for anise cut-out cookies (Kris Kringle cut-out sugar cookies) has become a family heirloom.
My grandmother cut this recipe for Kris Kringle cut-out cookies from the local newspaper many, many years ago and tweaked it to be her own. We still have the original clip!
It's a family tradition to make these cut-outs for Christmas each year. So we're going local today with a regional recipe that hails from Buffalo, NY originally.
Now it's my pleasure to share our secret with you!
What do plain sugar cookies taste like?
But I tend to agree with her. They are blah. Yes, they are flavored with vanilla and vanilla is delicious, but there's never enough vanilla. Not in any recipe I've sampled.
Flavorless, lackluster cookies don't work for our family. Not worth the calories. But anise cut-out cookies? They lure me in every time.
Anise has a bold taste. And either you love it or hate it ~ there's no middle ground.
But we are convinced Santa agrees with us on the anise as ALL the cookies left for him are gone each year! He's clearly a fan!
So what does anise taste like?
Anise is not sour but it's not spicy either. I find it has a subtle sweet flavor with an herbal aroma that only adds to the flavor.
So anise gives the perfect flavor and scent to these Kris Kringle cookies, something their vanilla counterparts are missing for sure.
One whiff of these anise cut-out cookies fresh out of the oven and you'll realize what you've been missing all these years.
And anise is a herbaceous annual plant that you should consider growing come spring!
So yes....you could grow anise!
Here's just a few tips to get the wheels turning:
Growing: Anise grows best in fertile, light and well-drained soil. The seeds should be planted as soon as the ground warms up in the spring.
Planting: Plant your anise in spring a few weeks after the last frost.
Spacing your crops: Plant your anise 2.5 to 3 feet apart after the last frost. In fact, they are grow up to 3-feet tall!
Sun exposure: Anise plants like full-sun.
Fertilizer: Only add fertilizer if you plant in bad soil.
Transplanting: Anise plants do not transplant well. Don't do it!
Harvesting: Harvest your anise when the flower umbels become heavy and have brownish seeds.
Recipe for anise cut-out cookies (Kris Kringle cut-out anise cookies)
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon anise oil
4 1/2 cups flour
Method & instructions for making anise cut-out cookies
Cream butter and sugar together. Add anise, milk and baking soda combo and eggs.
Add salt and cream of tarter sifted with 3 cups flour. Slowly add the remaining flour to make a dough that can be rolled.
Chill in fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Roll on lightly floured board to desired thickness.
Cut and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven 5-8 minutes depending on thickness.
To frost or not to frost? That is the question.
1.) Leave them unfrosted but put sprinkles on the top prior to baking.
2.) Frost them and add sprinkles after the fact.
Either way....sprinkles are essential. Christmas cookies must twinkle at you.
But our family has always had the tradition of using Pillsbury White Frosting. The sprinkles really pop against the white backdrop.
What I like about the frosting route is that if (and that's a great big if) you still have cookies a week later, the frosting seeps into the cookie keeping them moist and soft.
No stale cookies in my cookie jar!
Why we love cut-out cookies....
And yes, I'm sure these aren't the glamor shots you've seen on Pinterest. But they are real and raw (quite literally in some cases!) so pardon our imperfections.
But with a 6 and 8-year-old helping me out....I wouldn't have it any other way!