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
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.