In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, anise seed, vanilla extract, butter, lemon zest, salt and baking soda. Using either a spatula or a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, slowly add the water and heavy cream to form a dough. Be careful not to over-mix the dough as it could become tough.
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment or wax paper. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to dry for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300F and make the meringue. Using a standing mixer with the whip attachment on medium speed, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Slowly add your the sugar and whip until you form medium peaks. (At this point, you could add a tiny splash of almond extract or amaretto for a bit of flavor.) Transfer the meringue to a piping bag. If you don't have a piping bag, transfer to a ziplock bag and cut a tiny hole at the corner.
Place the dough balls in a greased mold– I use a 2- 3-inch ring mold or a muffin tin) and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and pipe the meringue on top of the cakes. Place the tin back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 20-30 minutes. Carefully remove from the tin and dust with confectioner’s sugar.