I made this just as described; cooking for slightly less time because I have an electric oven and it runs a little hot. These were just lovely as is, with the anise!! They DO taste quite licorice-ey, though, so if you have an aversion to the stuff, perhaps cut down on the anise extract or substitute with another flavor. (My whole family loved the anise flavor!) I did follow the advice of another reviewer and oiled my hands to work with the sticky dough. Even my husband, who hardly ever eats baked anything (he's a meat guy) gobbled them up! I am adding 3/4 cup cranberries, some orange zest, and 1 Cup almonds with 1 T almond extract for Christmas!
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I made this just as described; cooking for slightly less time because I have an electric oven...