Tony’s Dad’s Italian Cookies




1 lb Crisco shortening

8 cups flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1 jar anise seeds


12 cups powdered sugar

34 drops almond or vanilla flavoring

12 tablespoons milk

Colored Sprinkles


1. Measure all ingredients into a large bowl (or, if you like, an 18-quart pan). Like Tony did, wash your hands and squish the whole mess in your fingers—or mix in more traditional ways until dough forms.

2. Roll pinches of dough on a floured counter to make ropes about as thick as your pinky and 6  to 8 inches long.

3. Fold each rope in half and twist the two halves together, like lives intertwined. Pinch the ends to hold the twists together forever and seal with the memory of a kiss.

4. Place the twists on an ungreased or parchment-covered cookie sheet and repeat, twining together love and loss, past and present, the old year and the coming new one.

5. Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes or until the edges are golden.

6. Cool completely, then sweeten the bitterness of loss with drizzled-on icing. Immediately sprinkle with tears as necessary. (Sugar sprinkles will look better, though.)


Tony’s cookies may not be as timeless as love, but they keep well if you can resist them. Once the icing is firm, they also freeze and ship nicely when layered between sheets of waxed paper. I’d be honored, and so would he, if they add a loving twist to your holidays, too.