Biscochitos

What are biscochitos?

Biscochitos are similar to shortbread, or butter cookies, but with their own unique flavor twist. The biscochito dough is made with a generous amount of crushed anise seeds, as well as a hint of orange and cinnamon. They’re packed with flavor, covered in cinnamon sugar, and practically melt in your mouth. Delicious is only the tip of that flavor iceberg.

Making Biscochitos during the holidays is one of our most favorite holiday traditions! Really, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Biscochitos in the cookie jar at my house in December.

Ingredients

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 to 1½ teaspoons ground anise

½ teaspoon salt

½ pound lard, softened

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons sweet white wine, brandy, rum, apple or pineapple juice

¼ cup sugar and ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon for the topping

Instructions:

Step 1:

Sift together the flour, baking powder, anise, and salt and set aside.

Step 2:

Beat the lard in an electric mixer, gradually adding the sugar, and beat until extremely fluffy and light, about 8 minutes.

Don’t shortcut this step.

Stop the mixer every couple of minutes and scrape the sides of the mixing bowl.

Step 3:

Add the egg, followed by the wine, and continue beating.

Step 4:

Mix in the dry ingredients, adding about one-third of the mixture at a time.

Stop the mixer as you make each addition, and beat no longer than necessary to incorporate the dry ingredients.

A stiff pie-crust type of dough is what you’re seeking.

Step 5:

Chill the dough for about 15 minutes for easy handling.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Step 6:

Roll out the dough ¼-inch thick on a floured work surface and cut with a paring knife into a fleur-de-lis, or cut with a small cookie cutter.

Avoid handling the dough any more than necessary, one of the keys to the melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Step 7:

Transfer the cookies to ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until just set and pale golden.

While the cookies bake, stir together the topping.

Step 8:

When the cookies are done, cool for just a minute or two on the baking sheets, then gently dunk the top of each in the cinnamon sugar.

Transfer to absorbent paper to finish cooling.

Notes:

Traditional Biscochitos use lard and taste better because of it, but you can substitute vegetable shortening if you can’t find lard.

Toast the anise seed before using

Toasting the anise will enhance the flavor, and the process is similar to toasting nuts on the stovetop.

Heat a small dry pan on low heat, add the anise seed, and stir a few times until the seeds become fragrant.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before using.

Mix the dry ingredients in slowly

Gradually add the flour mixture into the mixer while the stand mixer is running at a slow speed.

This will help the dough come together smoothly without a cloud of flour billowing out.

Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes if refrigerated overnight

If chilling the dough overnight, let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or until slightly softened before rolling.

The dough will be too firm to roll if it does not have time to warm slightly.

Reroll dough scraps and reuse the cookie sheet

Anytime you use a cookie cutter to make cookies, you’ll have dough scraps after cutting each batch.

Press the scraps together with your hands, reroll, and cut additional cookies.

You can reroll the dough while the first batch is baking and reuse the same ungreased cookie sheets with parchment.

Dip the cutter in flour to prevent sticking

Prepare a small bowl of flour near your work area and dip the cookie cutter in the flour as needed to prevent sticking.

You can also switch up the shape of the cookie cutter to make stars, diamonds, or other festive cutouts.

About that lard:

There is also Lard on the ingredient list, but don’t let that deter you! You can sub in butter or vegetable shortening, but they won’t be the same. For an authentic New Mexican biscochito, you need to use lard. I’ll make my case:

* First, it’s the holidays and who said the treats need to be healthy.

* Second, call it historical research and then study every bite because these cookies are famous around here and have been since the first Spanish colonists rode into the state way back when.

* Finally, these cookies were the first cookies ever to be given the title of “official state cookie” which, as far as I’m concerned, is a pretty solid endorsement.

Tips for cooking biscochitos

One of the most important tips for success is to make sure you don’t overcook them. They will be just barely turning golden when they are done. This happens in my oven at precisely 12 minutes, but if you’re trying this at home for the first time, set the timer for less minutes and check them often.

When they’re done cooking, take the pan out of the oven but don’t touch the cookies. I leave them on the pan for 10 minutes and if I try to touch them before those ten minutes are up, they will crumble. You can sprinkle some cinnamon-sugar on top while they’re on the pan.

After the 10 minute waiting period, you can gently give them their cinnamon-sugar bath. I like to lay them in the cinnamon-sugar for a dusting on the bottom and then I spoon a little more on top.

Nutrition Information:

YIELDS: 36 cookies | SERVING SIZE: 1

Calories: 120 | Total Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 45mg | Total Carbohydrates: 11g | Dietary Fiber: 0.5g | Sugars: 4g | Protein: 1g

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I substitute lard with another fat?

Yes, you can use vegetable shortening or butter as a substitute for lard, but keep in mind that it will slightly change the flavor and texture of the Biscochitos.

What can I use if I don’t have anise seeds?

If you don’t have anise seeds, you can use anise extract as a substitute.

Use about 1-2 teaspoons of anise extract in place of the anise seeds, depending on your preference for the flavor.

Can I make the dough in advance and refrigerate it?

Yes, you can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it for later use.

Just wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container.

When you’re ready to bake, let the dough come to room temperature before rolling and cutting the cookies.

Can I freeze Biscochitos?

Yes, Biscochitos freeze well.

After baking and cooling, store them in an airtight container or freezer bags.

They can be frozen for several weeks.

Thaw them at room temperature when you’re ready to enjoy.

What is the traditional occasion for serving Biscochitos?

Biscochitos are a traditional cookie in New Mexico, often served during special occasions like Christmas, weddings, and religious celebrations.

They are especially popular during the holiday season.

Can I use butter instead of lard?

While lard is traditional for Biscochitos and imparts a unique flavor and texture, you can substitute it with butter if you prefer.

The cookies will have a slightly different taste and texture with butter.

What can I use instead of brandy in the recipe?

If you prefer not to use brandy, you can substitute it with orange juice or apple juice, as mentioned in the recipe.

This will give a different flavor profile to the Biscochitos.

How thick should I roll the dough for Biscochitos?

The thickness of the dough can vary based on personal preference.

Traditional Biscochitos are often rolled out to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness.

You can adjust the thickness to your liking for softer or crispier cookies.

Can I make Biscochitos without anise seeds?

While anise seeds are a traditional ingredient in Biscochitos and add a unique flavor, you can omit them if you don’t like the taste of anise or don’t have them on hand.

The cookies will still be delicious.

How should I store Biscochitos to keep them fresh?

Store your Biscochitos in an airtight container at room temperature.

They should stay fresh for about a week.

If you want to extend their shelf life, you can freeze them for longer storage.

What do I serve with this?

I love these anise-flavored cookies for the holiday season.

The buttery texture and cinnamon sugar are inviting and fun.

Serve this cookie after dinner with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, ice cream, or brandy!

You can even turn them into sandwich cookies by piping chocolate buttercream onto the bottom of one cookie and pressing another to the frosting.

Because this is a crispier cookie, it can be stored at room temperature for up to a week, so I love making them whenever I may have holiday guests dropping in so that I have a sweet treat on hand.

 

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