Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Baking: German Anise Molasses Cookies

German Anise Molasses Cookies

I've been so excited to talk about Dutch Oven Bread these past few posts, that I never got around to a post about Thanksgiving.  Our Thanksgiving meal was rather simple, as it is most years. Zach had a tennis match in Colorado Springs at 8:00 am on Thanksgiving Day.  He won his match so he had two more matches on Friday. I was thankful his match on Thanksgiving Day was so early. We were able to drive home and cook turkey.  I made some homemade cranberry sauce with lots of orange zest. I tried to use half the recommended amount of sugar and it was just too tart. 
I guess there are some recipes you just can't mess with. 

We spent the entire day in Colorado Springs on Friday for more tennis. There was a long break between Zach's morning and afternoon matches, so we had enough time to go out to lunch and up to Manitou Springs (at the base of Pike's Peak).  The boys like to go play at the old fashioned arcade and I like to check out a few shops.  Manitou Springs is always decorated nicely for the holidays.  I did a little shopping at the Olive Tap, a place where you can sample various olive oils and vinegars. I stocked up on some spices.

Finally, on Saturday... I had time to make my Christmas cookies.  This is a recipe taught to me by my mother-in-law, Maryellen.  My husband's Grandma Louise taught Maryellen how to make these cookies in 1962.  Several years ago, Maryellen came to visit us in Colorado for Thanksgiving and she taught me how to make these cookies.  It was a fun time.  I recall Maryellen brought a huge grinder all the way from Iowa so we could make the cookies... a huge metal grinder that clamps onto your kitchen countertop.  The grinder is used to grind the pecans and the citron.  I don't have grinder so I pulse the pecans and citron in my food process and that does the trick.  I've posted this recipe before, but here it is again.  I love the odd  interesting ingredients in these cookies!

Grandma Fluck's Anise Molasses Cookies

(As taught to me by my mother-in-law Maryellen)!

Dry Ingredients:
5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Things to grind in food processor:
2 ounces citron
1/2 cup pecans

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups light/mild molasses (I use Grandma's Molasses)
1/3 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
1/2 teaspoon oil of anise or 1 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 melted salted butter
zest from 1/4 lemon
juice and pulp from 1/2 lemon

Icing/Nut Topper:
sifted powered sugar
lemon extract
yellow food coloring
pecan halves

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir with a whisk to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the citron and the pecans together until the ingredients are ground into very small, similar sized bits. You can also use an old fashioned meat grinder for this (when my mother-in-law taught me how to makes these cookies, she brought her heavy metal meat grinder all the way from Iowa to Colorado... it's the kind of meat grinder that clamps onto the kitchen counter top). Caution: If you try to process just the citron by itself, it will be a gummy mess; be sure to process the citron and pecans TOGETHER. If you do not have a food processor, you can use one of those food chopper gadgets (like the kind from Pampered Chef or the chopper called "Slap Chop" as seen on TV might work as well) to finely mince the pecans and citron (that's what I did before I got a food processor).

Empty the ground citron and ground pecans from the food processor into a medium sized bowl and add in the remaining wet ingredients. Stir to combine.

Dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients all at once. Stir with a spoon by hand until all ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be sticky; don't worry. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

Dust a tea towel or pastry cloth with flour. Roll dough with a rolling pin (you are aiming for thickness of about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch). Cut dough into rectangles. I use a pizza cutter and a knife to accomplish this. Place cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. The cookies don't rise much and they don't spread out when baking so they can be placed pretty close together.

Bake in a 300 degree oven for 17 to 18 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer the baked cookies to the counter top (I just slide the parchment paper and cookies right onto the counter top to cool).

After the cookies have cooled to room temperature (or sat out overnight), prepare the icing. Combine sifted powdered sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract, 1 drop yellow food coloring, and half-n-half until you get a nice glaze. The glaze should be applied in thin layer with a knife. It should not be so thin that if runs off of the cookies. Top each glazed cookie with a pecan half.

Allow glaze to harden a bit before storing the cookies in air tight containers. I put layers of wax paper between the layers of cookies in my storage containers. It is recommended to let them sit for a few weeks as they get better as they "age". If you give these cookies a try, I'd love to hear about it.

A friend of mine encouraged me to enter a photo of my cookies in a photo contest on

My entry can be found HERE.
I thought it was so fun to enter, I also sumbitted a second photo HERE.

If you are looking for some holiday baking inspiration or want to enter some photos of your holiday baked goodies, here is the LINK.  I love looking at the various cookies. Some of them are amazing... check it out!


Nikki said...

Where do you find citron? Is there something I can substitute?

Kim said...

Good question. I find citron in the produce section at Safeway. It's in the same place as the candied fruits folks put in fruit cake and crystallized ginger. I hope this helps. I can think of no substitute.