These cookies are almost like magic. Teaspoonfuls of cookie dough are dropped onto baking sheets and then left to dry overnight. While baking, the meringue “frosts” the top of the cookie. How does this happen?

The “magic” comes from mixing the eggs for a long time. How long is a long time? 20 minutes. Uh-huh, this is when a stand mixer comes in handy; however, a hand-held electric mixer does the job just as well. Don’t let the long beating time deter you from trying these out – these Anise Drops are really simple to make and you’ll enjoy the results.

With no added fat you won’t feel guilty eating a few at a time and then a few more. They travel well so share them with friends over coffee or tea and be ready for the conversation that almost always starts with a “did you make these?” and then evolves to “how did you make these?”.

Known throughout Germany as Anise Platzchen, the popular licorice flavor in these cookies is derived from either ground anise seeds or anise oil. While the anise flavoring is popular, this versatile recipe readily accommodates other flavor profiles. My neighbor Christel, who grew up in a small town outside of Stuttgart, remembers her mother making these with vanilla flavoring, as she also does now. Pictured below is a mildly spiced cookie with cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg – four spices commonly partnered in German, Austrian, and Swiss holiday baking. All versions are included in this post: the recipe using the ground anise seed is from Carole Walter’s Great Cookies; the vanilla cookies are inspired by Christel; and the spice version was created in Gin’s Kitchen.

Recipe: Self-Frosting Anise Drops (Anise Platzchen)

Summary: Overnight meringue-topped anise cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon anise seed, ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle or 1/4 teaspoon anise oil
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Vanilla Version – substitute 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract for the anise seed or anise oil

Spice Version – omit anise or vanilla flavoring; add the following spices to the dry mixture:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions

  1. Prepare baking sheets:  butter and lightly flour several baking sheets. Tap to remove excess flour. Alternatively, use a silicone liners to line baking sheets. Set aside.
  2. Make cookie dough:  in a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and ground anise seed. If making the spice version, add and mix in the spices to this mixture. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or hand-held mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed until they are lightened in color. Add sugar a little at a time over a 2 minute period. Add anise oil or vanilla extract if using. Continue beating the egg and sugar mixture for 20-25 minutes on medium speed. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix for an additional 3 minutes.
  4. Make cookies and dry overnight: using two teaspoons, scoop about a teaspoon of dough with one and shove the dough off the teaspoon tip with the other. Space cookies 1 1/2 inch apart. As the cookies flatten, they should be about 1 1/4 inch round. Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for at least 8 hours or overnight. Lightly touch the tops and if they are dry to the touch they are ready to be baked.
  5. Bake at 325º F:  preheat oven. Bake until tops are set (not soft) and the cookie bottoms are a light golden (use a small offset spatula to check undersides), about 6-8 minutes. If baking more than one sheet at a time, halfway through baking, rotate sheets top to bottom, front to back. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for a minute before removing to cooling racks. To remove cookies baked on a silicone liner, lift liner and gently peel off cookies. Cool before storing in an airtight container.

Makes about 60 cookies. Keeps for a long time.