Who else remembers spending hours in the kitchen with their grandmother, making traditional biscochitos for Christmas? Or maybe you remember someone “gifting” you a tin of the sweet cookies with a spicy bite, but telling you to return the tin so it can be used again next year. Almost as stereotypical as the smell of roasting chile in New Mexico in the fall is the smell of biscochitos cooking in the winter. This recipe, provided by Celina Aldaz-Grife of Celina’s Biscochitos, expands on the traditional version with unexpected ingredients.
6 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound lard, at room temperature (or
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 heaping teaspoons anise seed
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons brandy
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Cinnamon Sugar Mix
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1 Preheat oven to 350°. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Cream lard with sugar and anise seed. Add eggs one at a time into cream mixture until blended well. Add orange juice and brandy to the cream mix in a steady stream while mixer is mixing the liquid into the cream mix. Begin to add flour mix to the cream mix a little at a time. Hands are the best for working the dough, however a mixer works fine as well. Your dough should have a nice consistency that isn’t too sticky, like pie crust dough.
2 Fold in the cranberries and walnuts until evenly distributed.
3 On a lightly floured surface, begin to roll out the dough. It should be ¼” thick. Cut out cookies and place on cookie sheet. Repeat this process until you run out of dough. Bake until lightly golden to golden. It usually takes 7-12 minutes to bake. Let cookies cool for at least a minute and then dunk them in the cinnamon sugar mix. Place on a cookie rack until completely cooled. Makes 4-6 dozen.
Celina’s Biscochitos (www.celinasbiscochitos.com) offers a full range of traditional New Mexican biscochitos and uniquely flavored cookies for sale. Try their traditional cookies, just like your grandmother used to make, or any of their four custom flavors — green chile pecan, red chile, cocoa chocolate chip and lemon.
New Mexico’s State Cookie
Rich flavors of sugar, cinnamon and anise melt in your mouth.
- In case you weren’t aware, New Mexico has a state cookie — the tasty biscochito, just like abuela (grandma) used to make. New Mexico designated the biscochito as the state cookie in 1989 to encourage traditional homebaked cooking, and was the first state to recognize an official state cookie symbol. A small anise- and cinnamon-flavored
- shortbread cookie, the biscochito (called biscocho in southern New Mexico), was introduced by early Spaniards in the 16th century.
What does the name mean? Biscochito is the diminutive form of bizcocho in Spanish, which basically means “biscuit.” The cookies are traditionally cut into flower, crescent moon or star shapes. Biscochitos are served
- during special celebrations, such as wedding receptions, baptisms and religious holidays (especially during the Christmas season).
So, pour yourself a mug of hot chocolate, and enjoy a few biscochitos this holiday season. Don’t let the fact that they’re made with lard dissuade you. Holiday treats like these are meant to be savored!