These cookies remind me of Stella D'Oro -something I haven't thought about in at least thirty (possibly more) years. I have no idea if they still exist as a grocery store brand, but were I determined to reproduce them, this would be awfully close.
The recipe claims to be 100 years old (more like 120, as I bought the book ages ago) though I don't know how common electric mixers would have been at the turn of the century-these would be a chore, though not impossible with a hand whisk.
I used much less anise extract than the recipe called for. Had I used a whopping 2 tablespoons, not only would my house smell like a distillery, but I'm convinced the cookies would be inedible. That's my opinion anyway-do what your taste buds tell 'ya.
I shaped them in the recommended "O", "X", and "S" shapes. It is a cookbook from Chicago, so maybe they're supposed to read, "SOX". Might be cute at an Opening Day Party (guess that could work in Boston as well).
The recipe did not call for salt, but I used salted butter, which I think helps. If using sweet butter, add a pinch of salt with the flour.
From, Jewel-Osco 100 Years of Fresh Family Recipes
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons anise extract (I used 2 teaspoons)
2 1/4 cups plain flour sifted with 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream Butter and sugar together until light. Add eggs, beating with a hand mixer on high speed for 1 minute after adding each egg. This is important as the eggs provide most of the body of the cookies. Add extracts. With a wooden spoon, stir in flour and baking powder only until mixed. Take a small amount in your hands (if dough is too sticky, flour your hands lightly) and roll them into letter shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 350 degree f. oven for 10-15 minutes, depending on size of the cookies. You'll need to keep an eye on them-the cookies should be very lightly browned on the bottom. They dry out quickly, as the recipe warns, and I discovered on the second batch. Cool on racks, then glaze with:
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon anise extract (I'd adjust that downward a bit-your call)
3 cups icing sugar
Mix until smooth. Dip the tops of cookies in the icing, then drain on racks. If using jimmies to decorate, do so when the icing is still wet.