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Nana's Anise Pierniki (Polish Christmas Cookies)

A little bit of patience and a lot of sprinkles will get you the most memorable Christmas experience when you whip up a batch of my Nana's Anise Pierniki!

Serves ~3 dozen     adjust servings

Preparation 1 hour Cook Time 7 mins Total Time 1 hr 7 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract or oil

Vanilla buttercream frosting

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Assorted sprinkles

Instructions

  1. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, ~3 minutes. Add anise, egg yolk, and milk, beating to combine. In a separate bowl, sift baking powder and salt into flour, then add to wet ingredients, mixing until incorporated. Dough will be sticky but thick.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-24 hours.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon liners. Set up a station with flour, rolling pin, cookie cutters, and prepared baking sheets.
  4. Flour your workstation moderately, as well as your hands. Take half of the dough and dust it with flour, knead it into a ball, then roll it out as thinly as possible (or as desired,) dusting with flour sparingly but as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer to baking sheets, leaving a bit of space between each cookie (they don't spread much at all.)
  5. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until edges are barely golden (these are very pale finished cookies.*) Remove from oven and cool on pans for 3-4 minutes, then remove to cooling rack with a metal spatula.
  6. Return scraps to bowl and repeat the steps with the remaining cold ball of dough. Repeat a third time with scraps from first two rounds, being sure not to overwork the dough or add too much flour to it as you work.**

Vanilla buttercream frosting

  1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl and beat until a fluffy buttercream consistency is reached, adding milk or sugar as necessary (I like my frosting fluffy, but you may prefer it thinner.)
  2. Gently spread frosting on each cookie and decorate with sprinkles as desired. This is a fun project for little ones to help with! Allow cookies to dry overnight before packaging and storing. Enjoy - Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

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Recipe Notes

* These are very pale finished cookies, with only the edges being barely browned. I recommend testing a couple in your oven until you find the right amount of baking time. The cookbook calls for a 10 minute bake time, but my oven is near the 6-7 minute mark.
** It is important not to use too much flour on your work space, or to overwork the dough. It's very sensitive, and can lead to altered taste if abused.
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