Recipe: Self-frosting Anise Drop cookies (2024)

In retrospect, I got into baking Anise Drops for all the wrong reasons. I was looking for a low-maintenance cookie, something with a flavor reminiscent of the Springerle cookies, the anise-flavored embossed biscuits that I’ve been baking every year around Christmas since I met my husband. Springerle are one of the most high-maintenance holiday cookies out there. They take a minimum of two full days to make, and then they have to age in a tin for at least a week so that the flavor and texture can properly develop. I love Springerle, but I am not a patient person.

When I stumbled upon a recipe for Anise Drops in the New World Encyclopedia of Cooking, and again in an early edition of Joy of Cooking (before they were cut from later editions), I thought I had found the answer to my holiday cookie woes. The recipes looked very simple, and while Anise Drops, like Springerle, do need to dry before baking, they don’t need to age. I envisioned a season of whipping up quick batches of Anise Drops while I waited for the Springerle to reach their peak, never having to suffer through a chilly morning coffee without an anise-flavored cookie to go with it. I was so wrong.


Anise Drops, or Anisplatzschin, as they are known in Germany, are much like macarons flavored with anise—except for some reason, no one will come out and say that. There are a few key differences between the French macaron shell and the German Anise Drop, but they are relatively minor. While macarons are made with only egg whites and almond flour, Anise Drops are made with whole eggs and white wheat flour. There are also some subtle differences in the method of making both of these cookies, but the results are more or less the same.

When done right, Anise Drops are delightful little cookies. They’re about the size of a quarter, chewy and tender with a crisp exterior and a mild anise flavor. They’re often described as being “self-frosting,” which is really just another way of saying that, like French macarons, they develop feet—little ruffles with a vertical rise at the bottom of the cookie, filled with delicate air bubbles—when mixed, dried, and baked properly. They’re addictive, especially when paired with coffee, tea, or hot cocoa for dipping.


They are also some of the finickiest cookies I have ever made. On the bright side, even when you mess them up, Anise Drops are still delicious. The very first time I made them, they didn’t self-frost, and they were gone in less than a day. The last time I made them, I realized that my oven had started running 20 degrees hotter than usual. I gave the entire overbaked batch to a friend, who devoured them all in less than 48 hours. The batches I’ve made that turned out perfectly were carefully rationed to last for two or three days, at most. All of which is to say, though they are tricky to make, even less than optimal results are still delicious.

The headnote to the recipe in Joy of Cooking gives an indication as to both why these cookies truly are seasonal and why they are so finicky. It reads, “These professional-looking, self-glazing cookies with the charming puffed top are best made in cool weather. They do not turn out well if the humidity is over 50%.” Anytime the weather is a key factor in the success or failure of a baked good (think macarons, croissants, chocolate confections), you know you’re in for a wild ride.


There is much conflicting information, both in old books and on the internet, about how to make these cookies. King Arthur Flour has one of the better recipes I’ve found. It eschews the old-timey insistence that the batter must be beaten for no less than 25 minutes. The comments section, however, is full of the kinds of tales that seem typical of the Anise Drop: the recipe worked perfectly once, then never again; or it didn’t work, and then magically it did.

Some recipes say the cookies must rest for no more than eight hours; others claim that no fewer than 18-24 hours will suffice. Joy of Cooking makes no mention of resting time, while the New World Encyclopedia of Cooking calls for an overnight rest. I found, through much trial and error, a method that worked more or less consistently for me, assuming that the external conditions were right.


While almost every recipe I’ve seen indicates that the eggs should be whisked whole with the sugar, I found that I got the most reliable results by first whipping the egg whites to soft peaks, then adding to sugar to make a French meringue. I always do this by hand, because I think making meringue with a whisk builds character. Next, I whisk in the egg yolks, anise seeds, and anise extract (I use both, because I love the flavor, but using only the seeds will yield a milder cookie suitable even for the licorice-averse). Finally, I sift in the flour and baking powder before folding it into the thick, sticky batter.

Because I like things neat, I pipe my Anise Drops on a silicone baking mat. I’ve found no difference at all between drying the cookies for three hours, eight hours, or overnight: as long as they are dry to the touch, they’ve worked for me. I typically leave them out to sit near an open window on a cold day and check them starting after three hours.


Quite possibly the most important factor in making proper Anise Drops is the temperature of the oven. I’ve baked these in an ancient, malfunctioning oven that simply cannot hold a consistent temperature and got delicious cookies with no feet. I’ve baked them in my own modern but too-hot oven and got ugly feet and a crispier texture. But when they’re baked at the right temperature (exactly 325 degrees Fahrenheit) for just enough time (some recipes say 6 minutes, others say 12: you have to use your judgement, as there is no universal bake time), the results are spectacular.

Anise Drops

This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies and uses just one egg. It doubles and triples easily, but I like making these cookies in smaller batches in case something goes awry.


  • 1 egg, separated
  • ¼ tsp. fine salt
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ tsp. anise extract
  • ½ tsp. lightly crushed anise seeds
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅛ tsp. baking powder

In a medium or large mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and salt until foamy. Slowly add the sugar in four or five additions, whisking until soft peaks form. Add the egg yolk, anise extract, and anise seeds, and whisk until fully incorporated. The mixture should be pale yellow and very fluffy.


Sift together the baking powder and flour, then sift the dry ingredients into the egg-sugar mixture.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag, and pipe quarter-sized rounds onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. You can also use two teaspoons to drop the batter onto the baking sheet. Dry in a cool place (but not in the refrigerator) for at least three hours, or overnight.


When the cookies are matte and dry to the touch, bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Watch them closely—when they’re done, they should develop feet and have a creamy (but not golden) color on the bottom. Let cool on the pan for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool. These keep well in an airtight container or tin for about two weeks.

Recipe: Self-frosting Anise Drop cookies (2024)


What is the best way to extract star anise? ›

The different methods of extracting the star anise oil shows that the extraction rate are: soxhlet extraction method > ultrasonic extraction method > steam distillation extraction method. In summary, it can be seen by soxhlet extraction method and the best solvent is 99.7% ethanol.

What can I use anise extract for? ›

Use McCormick Culinary Pure Anise Extract in house-made Galliano or Absinthe liquors, baked goods and coffee or tea. Prep Instructions: No preparation necessary. McCormick Culinary® Pure Anise Extract is ready to use for adding a unique depth of flavor to dishes.

What is the difference between star anise and anise extract? ›

While they both deliver licorice flavor, star anise and anise are two different plants and are not related to each other. Star anise has a stronger flavor. When substituting anise extract for star anise, use 1 teaspoon of anise extract for 1 teaspoon of star anise.

Which is stronger anise seed or star anise? ›

Their similar licorice-like flavor makes these two natural substitutes for each other. However, because star anise has a much stronger flavor, you'll need to halve the amount when substituting it for anise seed. Likewise, use twice as much anise seed when substituting for star anise.

What is the difference between anise oil and anise extract? ›

A: Hmm - Oil is definitely stronger than anise extract. If you normally need 1 tsp extract, only 1/3 tsp of oil would be good. I would have to use 1 Tbsp of extract and I only need 1 tsp of oil.

What spice tastes like anise? ›

Fennel seeds and star anise are both great substitutes for anise seed. Fresh fennel bulbs and fronds also offer a similar flavor profile, but are milder tasting and not as conveniently substituted in various dishes.

What is anise good for in baking? ›

Anise has been used for centuries to add a distinctive flavor to liqueurs and baked goods, from copper-distilled Greek ouzo to twice-baked Italian biscotti.

Who should not take anise? ›

Hormone-sensitive conditions: Anise might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, don't use anise. This includes breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and others. Surgery: Anise might lower blood sugar levels.

How much anise extract to use? ›

In order to avoid your recipe from being dominated by the strong licorice flavor of anise extract, it is wise to use much less of it than you would anise seed. Generally, using a measurement that is about half of what the recipe calls for will work when substituting in anise extract.

Why does anise make you sleepy? ›

According to Ayurveda, star anise may have sedative properties that can help your nerves settle down and also ensure a good night's sleep. If you are having difficulty getting sleep, try a cup of soothing star anise tea before going to bed.

What part of star anise do you use? ›

It often is added whole to soups, stews and braising broths, to which it adds a sweet-licorice-peppery flavor. Star anise can be used whole or ground. When whole, it usually is added to liquids destined for a slow simmer or braise. It usually is removed and discarded from the dish before serving.

What part of the anise plant do you use? ›

It's a strong herb, and it can be used in curries, in making flavored liqueurs and in baking. The seeds are the edible part of the plant, and they are grown in umbels similar to Queen Anne's Lace.

Do you grind the whole star anise or just the seeds? ›

Can I grind the whole star anise or should I remove the seeds first? It's best to grind the whole star anise, including the seeds, as this will release the full flavor and aroma of the spice. The seeds are an integral part of the star anise and contribute to its unique taste.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated:

Views: 5624

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.