Anise Platzchen (Self-Frosting Anise Drops)

December 2, 2014

in Cook What You Like, Cookies and Confections

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.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie December 14, 2016 at 6:15 AM

Hi Gin,

I made these last night. Can they take longer than 8 hours to dry?

Reply

Gin December 15, 2016 at 8:56 AM

Yes, they’re ready for the oven when the cookies’ tops are no longer sticky to a light touch. They can dry at room temperature on uncovered baking sheets (make sure no flying objects land on them) for up to 24 hours. Have fun!

Reply

Karen December 13, 2016 at 5:08 PM

I only have the bleached flour. I’m assuming that the only difference of this is the color? Or is there something else I’m missing? Anxious to try these. My grandmother always made these perfect and I’ve never been able to duplicate.

Reply

Gin December 13, 2016 at 5:19 PM

Karen,
Yes, the only difference using bleached all-purpose vs. unbleached all-purpose flours might be a slightly lighter color cookie with no taste or performance change. Thank you for making these – they are a lot of fun. Happy Holidays!

Reply

Karen December 13, 2016 at 6:01 PM

Thank you! Happy holidays to you also! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

Reply

Karen December 14, 2016 at 4:34 PM

This recipe turned out perfectly just like the picture!

Reply

Gin December 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Karen,
Your grandmother would be so proud!

Dan December 9, 2016 at 7:33 PM

Do I have this correct –

beat eggs for about 20 minutes
add sugar and flavoring
beat mixture for about another 20 minutes

40 minutes total?

Reply

Gin December 10, 2016 at 8:39 AM

Hi, Dan,
Thanks for asking for clarification – the recipe’s been adjusted to make it more clear. Basically: beat eggs until lightened, add sugar to eggs over a 2-minute time period, then beat egg-sugar mixture for 20-25 minutes, then add dry ingredients and mix for 3 minutes. For this recipe, better to over beat than under beat the egg-sugar mixture. Thank you for making these – if you like anise, you might also try the springerle recipe, too.

Reply

Cynthia Backlund November 20, 2016 at 4:57 PM

Made these yesterday and am disappointed with results. They are too flat. They had dried and I baked them after only 4 hrs. I wonder if my hand held mixer was the problem. I tried highest speed but air bubbles were quite large, so I stuck to medium. I need to increase the extract too. I want to try again, any tips appreciated.

Reply

Gin November 23, 2016 at 9:15 PM

Hey, Cynthia,
Thanks for making the Anise Platzchen. When using a hand mixer to beat the eggs and sugar before adding the remaining dry ingredients, be patient; every mixer is a little different. You’re looking for a thickened, slightly meringue-like/thin pancake batter look. With this step, better to overbeat than under beat as the long mixing time incorporates air into the eggs so that they “self-frost the cookie. Also, try making these on a low humidity day. I hope that you try making these again.

Reply

Charlotte October 7, 2016 at 5:33 AM

Can the self frosting anise cookies be frozen?

Reply

Gin October 7, 2016 at 10:46 PM

Thank you for asking. Yes, Anise Platzchen can be frozen but they keep in a tight-lidded tin for a long time (better option). I make the cookies in early December and serve them through Christmas.

Reply

Charlotte October 8, 2016 at 5:46 AM

Thank you so much. I know the humidity has to be low for them to rise properly so while i had a few days of low humidity I’d make a batch for the freezer.
Thanks again.

Reply

Jolene February 15, 2016 at 9:34 AM

Hi there!
When you say to beat until the eggs are lightened in color, how light are we talking? I’ve made meringues, but never anything like this with whole eggs. Like, a shade or two lighter? Or nearly white kind of lighter? Is there an approximate time frame when this usually occurs?

Not to be a pain in the neck, but I really want to try these and I hate the idea of messing them up with all the scooping and waiting involved 😉

Also, could you use a bag and a large plain tip and pipe them instead of using spoons, you think? That’s how I do meringues, and it’s much quicker and easier…

Thank you!

Reply

Gin February 15, 2016 at 10:29 AM

Hi, Jolene,
Thanks for asking the question. The color you’ll be looking for is a very pale yellow. It usually takes 20-25 minutes with an electric mixer on medium (medium high if your mixer runs a little on the low side) to get to the pale yellow. Test the batter by scooping up a teaspoonful and shoving it off onto a clean plate. If the batter has a peak (like soft meringue), doesn’t separate (puddling), and holds its shape for 3-4 seconds before rounding out, you’re there. Better to overbeat than underbeat. Yes, these cookies can also be piped – handle the batter gently. The tops can be gently smoothed out with the back of a spoon. Ensure the tops are dry to the touch before baking; it’s the dryness that helps the meringue separate from the bottom part of the cookie. Making self-frosting cookies on non-humid days helps them dry faster. I hope you have fun making these!

Reply

Jolene February 15, 2016 at 11:02 AM

Thank you for the quick and thorough response!

I will try these this week if time allows 🙂

Reply

Alexa December 21, 2015 at 7:40 AM

Hi Gin! Would I be able to use anise extract? I couldn’t find anise oil anywhere.
Thanks!

Reply

Gin December 21, 2015 at 9:14 AM

Alexa, generally, extracts tend to be less concentrated than oils so when substituting extract for oil, use twice as much extract. Also, different brands of extracts have different strengths so getting the depth of flavor you like might take a couple of batches. Have fun making these self-frosting anise drops! Happy Holidays!

Reply

Linda December 12, 2015 at 4:56 AM

These are great, but I think the baking time should say 16-18 minutes.

Reply

Gin December 14, 2015 at 7:52 PM

Thanks for making fun cookies. I just made these in a different oven and the cookies needed a longer baking time – every oven is different!

Reply

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