This recipe for Anise Cookie Bars has been passed down from generation to generation in my husband's family, and now I'm sharing it with you!
These cookie bars are near and dear to my husband's heart because his grandmother used to bake Anise cookies for Christmas. I took a liberty (or two) with his grandma's recipe and came up with Anise "Snowflake" Cookie Bars. I trust his grandma would be pleased.
This recipe post and its contents may include affiliate links for your consideration. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases, but your prices are never increased as a result. Thank you.
- The ingredients:
- Ingredient information:
- Where was Grandma from?
- What does anise taste like?
- Where does anise seed originate?
- Are star anise and anise seed the same thing?
- Is this a cookie or a cake?
- How does this cookie rise without a rising agent?
- What other pan can be used to bake these cookie bars?
- How to serve anise cookie bars:
- Additional Christmas cookie recipes:
- Printable Recipe Card
*Please note that the exact measurements along with a new "shop the recipe" feature from Instacart is available in the printable recipe card.
EGGS - Large eggs are always what I write recipes with and what I use. When baking, it is important to have the eggs at room temperature before starting so they'll blend better. If you forget to let the eggs sit on the counter for a while, you can run them under warm water for 1-2 minutes, and they'll be ready to go.
GRANULATED SUGAR - There's not much I can say about sugar. It's sugar, and it's essential when baking cookies. Can you use a sugar substitute? I suppose so, but make sure to use a one-to-one substitution, such as Stevia.
ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR - I use unbleached all-purpose flour. Feel free to use bleached all-purpose flour if that's what you have. If using bleached all-purpose flour, your cookie bars will be a slightly lighter color and have a slightly softer texture, but unless you're a flour connoisseur, you'll not notice a difference.
ANISE SEED - If you cannot find the anise seed, feel free to swap in anise extract. Start by using ½ teaspoon of extract, and then if you feel like the scent (use your sniffer) is too mild, add a slight touch more until your nose knows the right amount.
PURE VANILLA EXTRACT - I love pure vanilla extract and use it in almost most baking recipes. Mark's grandma's original recipe didn't call for vanilla extract, but as stated, I decided to pump up the flavor slightly of these cookie bars by adding pure vanilla extract. In my opinion, adding pure vanilla extract is never a wrong decision!
KOSHER SALT - A small pinch of salt will enhance the flavor of EVERYTHING! Especially baked goods. Don't omit the salt. I implore you! A tiny touch of salt goes a long way in improving sweets or baked goods.
Order your colorful and printable food lovers' calendar now and be on top of all the fabulous food holidays throughout the year. It makes a GREAT GIFT for all the food lovers in your life!!
Where was Grandma from?
Sadly, I never got to meet her as she had passed away before my husband and I even started dating, but she was originally from Alsace-Lorraine, which is a region in Western Europe between France and Germany.
What does anise taste like?
I find that anise seed has a very mild and light licorice flavor. I'm not a lover of black licorice, so I appreciate that these cookie bars are pretty subtle in their licorice flavor.
Of course, if you'd like more anise flavor, feel free to add more than 1 teaspoon (what the recipe calls for) of anise seed.
Where does anise seed originate?
The seeds are produced by a Pimpinella anisum plant. This plant is a member of the Apiaceae family that, oddly enough, also encompasses carrots, parsley, and celery.
Are star anise and anise seed the same thing?
No, they are not the same thing, so they are not interchangeable.
Is this a cookie or a cake?
It may look like a cake, but it's definitely a cookie because of its dry and crisp texture.
How does this cookie rise without a rising agent?
You'll notice in the recipe that first, the eggs are whipped at high speed for several minutes, and then once the sugar is added, the mixture is whipped again at high speed for an additional several minutes. It is the prolonged whipping of the eggs and sugar that gives these anise cookie bars their lift.
What other pan can be used to bake these cookie bars?
This recipe is written for an 8-inch square baking pan, or you can use an equivalently sized snowflake baking dish that you'll notice I used. I've used both types of pans (at different times), and they both worked wonderfully well.
How to serve anise cookie bars:
These anise cookie bars are best served with a hot cup of coffee, tea, or maybe even a tall glass of cold milk...or Pepsi. *wink*
Oh, and I wouldn't turn down a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream...would you?
Additional Christmas cookie recipes:
Christmas Cream Cheese Sprinkle Cookies are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside thanks to the fun and colorful sprinkles.
These Peppermint Shortbread Cookies will be the star of any cookie platter. They're all dressed up and ready to party!
A slightly crispy outside and an ever so slightly chewy center with a colorful sugar coating is what makes Santa's Favorite Sugar Cookies so enticing.
This vintage cookie recipe dates back to the 1930s. Vintage Rocks Cookies are fast and easy to make and don't require any special equipment.
When you make this recipe, and I hope you do, I'd appreciate it if you'd take a moment to leave a star rating on the recipe card and briefly comment on why you rated it as you did. FYI - Google appreciates recipe ratings and, in turn, will share my recipes with more people. Thank you so much!!
Printable Recipe Card
Anise Cookie Bars
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes.
- Spray an 8-inch square (or snowflake) baking dish liberally with baking spray. Set aside.
- Whip the eggs in a large bowl on high speed for at least 3 minutes until light and frothy.
- Add the sugar, vanilla, and salt to the bowl and continue whipping at high speed for an additional 2-3 minutes. *Note - The whipping is what will give rise to the cookie bars as they bake so don't skip this step.
- Beat the flour into the egg and sugar mixture, one cup at a time, starting on low speed and increase the speed gradually until the flour is fully incorporated, being careful not to overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
- Add the batter (it will be thick) into the prepared baking pan and smooth the batter evenly with the spatula throughout the surface of the pan.
- Bake the in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the baked dough comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes and then carefully turn the cookie out onto a wire rack to continue cooling.
- Once fully cooled, sprinkle the top of the cookie bar liberally with confectioners' sugar (optional) and cut into squares or wedges depending on the baking pan used.
I sincerely hope you've enjoyed todays old-fashioned anise cookie bar recipe as much as I've enjoyed bringing it to you!
Thank you so much for visiting me today in my Kudos Kitchen. I hope you found something you'll love and that you'll come back and visit me often. There is always room for you around my table!
Should you have any questions or comments regarding anything you've seen here on my blog, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. It is always my distinct pleasure to respond to you just as soon as I possibly can.
Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!!