Mary Ann's Blog

In Your Easter Basket

These Italian Easter cookies with anise flavoring are light and biscuit-like in texture. They are often enjoyed in the morning with an espresso. Since breakfast is unheard of in Italy, (except for hotel tourists), these cookies (biscotti) would be right at home on an Italian table. Make the dough and refrigerate it overnight to make it easier to work with. Tuck some into Easter baskets and to give as an Easter treat.

Italian Easter Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen


12 tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
¾ cup milk
Zest and juice 1 large orange
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 ½ to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt


2-1/2 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
1 teaspoon pure anise extract
Half/Half as needed
Colored sugars

In a large bowl or stand mixer, add butter and sugar and beat until the mixture is light colored and well blended. Add the eggs one at a time and blend well. Add the milk, zest and juice.

In a separate bowl combine 5 cups of the flour, baking powder and salt. On medium speed or by hand, add the flour gradually and blend well. Mixture should be tacky; only add additional flour if the dough is not starting to come away from the sides of the bowl.

Scrape the dough into a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to use, flour a work surface and turn the dough out and knead it into a ball of dough that is not sticky.

Divide the dough into walnut size pieces and roll each piece into a long rope about 8 inches long and the thickness of your pinkie finger. Form the cookies into various shapes; rounds, twists, and S cookies.

Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks.

In a separate bowl, combine the Confectioner’s sugar, anise and enough of the Half/Half to make thin glaze. When cookies are cool, frost and sprinkle with the colored sugars and allow to dry completely.




  1. Kate Casey's avatar

    Kate Casey

    Thank you for this recipe. I am obsessed with this cookie which I first ate in the basement store room of a classmate's mother 74 years ago. That storeroom was beautiful. Well lit and filled with tins of delicious treats. I remember the first taste of this cookie as if I ate it two minutes ago. It was then that I learned that Italians loved food and could make it. My own Mother loved food and respected it.
    She was a good, but not a glorious cook., Her respect for food led
    me as a child to scorn certain much used American foods .and I
    tended early on to condition friend's invitations on the table their
    parents' provided.

    I can willow out today the "faux" media "chefs" and for years have sainted Mary Ann as always trustworthy to my appetite.

    This cookie ships well to adult grandsons.

Leave a Comment

Looking for even more photos and recipes?
Order my latest book.

Ciao Italia: My Lifelong Food Adventures in Italy

Mary Ann's newest book contains over 150 recipes, 60 gorgeous food photos, and many scenic pictures of Italy taken by Mary Ann on her travels through the years.

Order using this link and receive a signed book plate.

Available now!