I loved making cookies with my mom when I was a boy. I don’t remember doing a lot of rolled cut-out cookies, but I do remember doing a lot of “ball” cookies. My mom is famous for her Italian-American “Meatball Cookies”. They’re a chocolate cookie with walnuts and raisins. I’ll try to post her recipe soon! Meatball Cookies are formed by rolling dough into a ball and baking, they don’t rise very much so they retain a dense ball shape. This recipe also makes A LOT of cookies… and believe it or not… they’re pretty quick to make! The batch I made for the cookie swap made 60 cookies, but mine were on the large side.
I was invited to a cookie swap holiday party recently. My first thought was to make my mom’s Meatball Cookies, but then I realized there were some nut allergies on the guest list so I opted for another Italian-American cookie, Anise Cookies… or as people in the area I grew up call them “Italian White Cookies”. I cannot eat just one of these cookies.. they’re dense balls of anise flavored goodness topped with sugary icing.
In my opinion, MORE IS MORE when it comes to sprinkles! I have a bit of a sprinkle problem actually, every time I’m in a baking store I gravitate to glitter, sprinkles, nonpareils. NY Cake & Baking Supply is my go-to place for any of this. I found some of the items I used for these cookies on Amazon also: Black Glitter, Gold Star Glitter, Rainbow Nonpareils, Gold Pearlized Sugar, & Silver Pearlized Sugar.
I couldn’t resist taking a bite! Now some might balk at the vegetable oil and shortening in this recipe, but I love the taste just how it is! I’ve tried to make the recipe substituting the shortening with butter, but the cookies go flat. While vegetable shortening isn’t my go-to fat in a recipe, I’m fine using it from time to time!
A quick and lovely recipe with wonderful anise flavor. This recipe is adapted from my dear friend Michele Mazurowski and has Italian-American roots.
For the cookies:
- 3 eggs large
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable shortning
- 1 2/3 cup sugar 334 grams
- 6 cups all-purpose flour 750 grams
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk whole
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tsp anise extract
For the icing:
- 16 ounces confectioners sugar 453 grams
- 2 tsp anise extract
- 1/4 cup milk plus more to get to desired consistency
- various sprinkles more is more!
Preheat oven to 375F/190C
In a stand mixer, cream vegetable shortening and sugar for 3-5 minutes on medium.
Add eggs, mixing until incorporated between each egg.
Measure out dry ingredients, mix together, then slowly add to the sugar/egg/shortening mixture on low speed.
Add anise extract, oil, and milk and mix until fully incorporated.
Form dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter and place on a lined baking sheet. Dough balls can be placed relatively close together because this cookie does not get much bigger during baking.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cookies begin to crack a bit on top. You don't want the cookies to brown at all.
Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the icing, combine all ingredients and mix well. You want the consistency to be thick. Test out a cookie or two and add more milk if you need to think out the icing.
Dip each cookie into the icing, shake off excess, place on a rack and immediately decorate with sprinkles and then allow them to dry completely until the icing is set.