There are so many great blogs out there that teach you how to cook delicious, smashing recipes. (Find my fave healthy go-to here.) I'm here to tell you that this is not one of those blogs. NOT.
I am an experimenter. A curious soul. Not always a winner. Let's just be clear.
I got invited to a delightful holiday cookie exchange, so I decided to put my hands to work and use a homemade recipe. Like an old Italian broad. Probably the first mistake. A precious girl at my office was talking about these cookies that she makes every year for Thanksgiving (yes, I was eavesdropping), and she kept going on and on about how her family begs her to make them. They can't live without them. Obviously, my ears perked up as I heard this conversation going on and in a stroke of genius (or madness), I decided that I must extract this recipe from her and bake this masterpiece recipe for the cookie exchange.
I don't want to say it was a mistake... it just wasn't a home run.
I'll share the recipe and then my dazzling insights:
Italian Anise Cookies
Makes 6 dozen
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon anise
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups flour
1/4 cup baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups confectionary sugar
1 tablespoon anise
1-3 tablespoons water (Start with 2 and slowly add water until the consistency is right. You want it on the thicker side, but not so thick that you can't spread.)
Combine butter, sugar, eggs, anise and vanilla.
Sift flour with baking soda and salt and add to mix.
Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
Roll into 1-inch balls and place two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (Note: Cookies will not be brown but will be cooked. Only the bottom of the cookie will brown.)
Let the cookies cool completely, then frost. It's easiest to turn the cookies upside down and dip them in the frosting.
Add sprinkles (the multi-color nonpareils are best because they won't melt into the frosting...)
I was so jazzed. Clearly. However, these cookies really do take quite a lot of work, and while they tasted ok, they weren't the prettiest cookie. Certainly not as pretty as my co-workers.
Where it went wrong.
I didn't screw up the recipe. The cookies tasted alright (I expected them to taste magical, since I created them FROM SCRATCH, but they just tasted like a normal cookie. That was the first disappointment.) But I got the wild idea that I was going to add food coloring to the frosting so that the cookies could be stylin' in Christmas colors. That was my second mistake. Do you have any idea how hard is it to make the color red with food coloring? It's nearly impossible. Just keep adding red, right? WRONG. With each droplet of red food coloring, my frosting just kept turning a more neon hue of pink. Like pink-pink. Like the 9-year old girl, Hello-Kitty loving-pink. Not cute. Upon reflection (and maddening research), I am glad to know that I am not alone in my attempt for the perfect shade of red via food coloring. So I made another batch of frosting and colored it green. That went a little better, but I only managed to achieve a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle green, not the my desired holiday Christmas tree green.
Mixed. My husband liked them (but didn't LOVE them), while I was in denial for a few minutes because of all the hard work I put into them. "They're not ugly, right? They're pretty?" I asked, in an attempt to make them prettier just by saying the words out loud, to which Stevie responded, "They're techno-cookies." Awesome. I meant to create gorgeous, graceful holiday cookies that would have the crowd ooo-ing and ahh-ing, and instead I made techno funk. Seems fitting.
Want to know how my darling cookies were received at the party? I bet you do. Stay posted! Oh, and Merry techno Christmas!