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Biscochitos, the official state cookie of New Mexico, stand out with their unique blend of flavors. They’re known for their tender texture, the distinct aroma of anise seeds, and gentle warmth of cinnamon and brandy. These cookies are a traditional treat, especially during holiday seasons and celebrations.
An unusual, but key ingredient in this recipe is lard. It’s essential to achieve the signature delicate, crumbly texture that other fats can’t replicate. The lightly sweet, anise seed laced dough is rolled out, cut, and twice coated in cinnamon sugar for depth of flavor – first before baking and again when warm from the oven. They’re a sensory pleasure to bake and make an excellent edible gift, sure to leave a lasting impression with every bite.
Table of Contents
Ingredients You Need to Make Biscochitos
- All-Purpose Flour: Look for a flour with a consistent and fine texture. The quality of flour can impact the tenderness of the cookies.
- Baking Powder: Be sure it’s fresh for the best rise.
- Salt: Choose fine sea salt for its ability to dissolve easily into the dough, for a uniform flavor throughout the cookies.
- Lard: Opt for high-quality lard for its unique contribution to the texture. (More on lard options below.)
- Sugar: Granulated sugar works best. It should be free-flowing without any lumps for even incorporation into the dough.
- Anise Seeds: Freshness is key. They should have a strong, aromatic scent, a good sign that they are still potent and will add vibrant flavor.
- Egg: Use a large or extra large egg, preferably at room temperature, to help it blend smoothly into the dough.
- Brandy: Choose a brandy that has a smooth flavor. It doesn’t need to be top-shelf, but a decent quality brandy will enhance the overall taste of the cookies.
- Cinnamon: Look for cinnamon that has a rich, sweet aroma, a good sign of its freshness and quality.
Understanding Different Types of Lard
Lard comes in different varieties, each with its unique characteristics. The most sought-after is leaf lard, sourced from around the pig’s kidneys and prized for its purity and mild flavor, making it ideal for pastries and cookies. Regular rendered lard, more commonly found, is a bit stronger in flavor but still a good option for baking. There’s also hydrogenated lard, often available in supermarkets, which has a longer shelf life but can contain trans fats and additives.
5 Recipe Tips
- Chill the Dough if Needed: If the dough becomes too soft while rolling, refrigerate it for about 30 minutes. This makes it easier to handle and cut into shapes.
- Uniform Thickness: Roll the dough to an even thickness to ensure consistent baking. A rolling pin with adjustable rings can be very helpful.
- Cookie Cutter Sizes: Use cookie cutters of similar sizes for even baking. If you mix sizes on one tray, smaller cookies might overbake.
- Watch the Baking Time: Oven temperatures can vary, so start checking the cookies a few minutes before the suggested baking time to prevent over-browning.
- Timing the Second Coating: Cool the cookies just enough so they hold together without falling apart, but not too long that the cinnamon sugar won’t adhere.
Storing and Freezing: Dough and Baked Cookies
To store the dough, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days before baking. For freezing, roll out the dough, cut into cookie shapes, then place on a baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer unbaked cookies to a freezer-safe bag. Freeze for up to 3 months and bake directly from the freezer.
Store baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. For longer storage, freeze the baked cookies in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 3 months, and thaw at room temperature before serving.
More Festive Cookie Recipes
How to Make Biscochitos
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat lard and ¾ cup sugar until soft and fluffy, then add anise seeds and mix well. Incorporate the egg, followed by the flour mixture, mixing until combined, then add brandy and mix thoroughly.
Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface to a ¼-inch thickness, sprinkle evenly with a tablespoon of a cinnamon-sugar mixture prepared in a separate bowl, and cut into shapes using cookie cutters. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving space between each.
Bake in an oven preheated to 350˚F until lightly browned, then allow to cool slightly before dipping each warm cookie into the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture and transferring them to a serving platter.
For the Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup lard at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1/4 cup brandy
For the Topping/Coating
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl until combined; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat lard and 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until soft and fluffy. Add anise seeds and beat on high until well combined. Add egg and brandy and mix until combined. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and and beat on low until combined. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and roll into an even 1/4-inch thickness. (Or cover and refrigerate until ready to roll out and bake.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon together until combined.
- Sprinkle dough evenly with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cut into desired shapes (2 to 2 1/2-inch diameter cookie cutters) and transfer with a thin, metal spatula to prepared baking sheet, leaving a little room around each cookie. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned (see recipe note). Remove from oven and let stand until cooled slightly. Then carefully dip each warm cookie into cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating it on all sides, and transfer to serving platter.
- Baking time depends on the thickness of your dough. If it’s just shy of the 1/4-inch thickness, keep an eye on the cookies at 12 minutes to be sure they don’t get too brown. If the dough is thicker, it make take longer than 18 minutes, so note the color of the cookie and remove them when they’re lightly brown. Also note that that they’ll crisp up as they cool.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.