These are one of my favorite Christmas cookies and Grandma Rose always made them as well as Aunt Grace. They are not overly sweet and I understand are supposed to be eaten with coffee or wine, which would make sense; but I just ate them (and still do!). This recipe is good and a little faster. The traditional recipe that calls for the long rise is on another page. I make both versions. I think I prefer the traditional ones a bit more.
The recipe below makes a lot of cookies, at least four dozen.
1 pound of butter (at room temperature)
5 cups of sifted flour
1/2 cup of warm milk (about 100 degrees but no hotter)
1/2 tablespoon of sugar
1 tabelspoon of anise extract
1 envelope of yeast (or 2.5 teaspoons)
2 eggs (well beaten)
Extra sugar for rolling (you can use powdered, extra fine, or regular, even colored if you want)
Add the sugar to the warm milk to a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the yeast to activate it and set it aside.
Soften the butter in a mixer. Add the eggs,anise, and milk mixture (once it has activated). Mix well. Add 1/2 of the flour and mix. Add the remaining flour and mix until a stiff dough forms.
Cover the dough and let it sit for about an hour. It will raise some (but not a lot like a true loaf of bread). Once it is done, roll out small pieces of dough about as thick as your finger. and about 8-inches long. Take the rolled out strips and bend them into a horseshoe shape, but pinch the ends closed.
Place them onto a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or covered with parchment paper at 375 degrees. Check them at ten minutes. They should be done by 12 to 14 minutes at the longest. When warm, roll the cookies in sugar. The sugar will stick to them. Allow them to cool.