Biscochitos

Surprise.  Here’s another New Mexico-inspired post.

Biscochitos are a New Mexican Christmas tradition.  We were first introduced to them on a holiday trip as we were spending Christmas in Santa Fe and staying at the Inn on Alameda.

Inn on Alameda at night decked out in faralitos (December 2014)

When we returned from our Christmas Eve walk on Canyon Road, we found a box of biscochitos on our pillow.  These cookies will forever be linked in our memory with that snowy Christmas Eve in Santa Fe.

Since then, I have made them a couple of times.   Three years ago, I made a version you can find here.   It was a smaller batch.  A couple of years ago, I ran across this authentic recipe in New Mexico Magazine.  These are the state cookie btw.

Be aware there is lard in these cookies.  I have even seen some recipes that call for bacon fat.  I was tempted, but I went with the lard—a whole pound of it.

Hey, we can splurge once a year at Christmas, right?

Biscochitos

From New Mexico Magazine, December 2015

“Unless you’re cooking for vegetarians, don’t substitute any other fat for the lard, which is essential to the taste and flaky texture. A great biscochito should melt in your mouth, and that requires a generous amount of vigorous whipping to aerate the lard-and-sugar base, a minimum of liquid, and a delicate touch in handling the dough. Serve as a snack with tea or hot chocolate, as a light dessert, or—oh, heck—for breakfast.”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lard, softened
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. aniseed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 6 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. fine sea salt
  • 2 T. rum

For Topping:

  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Beat lard in electric mixer, gradually adding sugar, and beat until extremely fluffy and light, for no less than 8 minutes. Stop mixer every couple of minutes and scrape sides of mixing bowl. Add aniseed, followed by eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix dry ingredients in with , adding about half of mixture at a time. Stop mixer as you make each addition, and beat no longer than necessary to incorporate dry ingredients. Sprinkle rum over dough and beat it in. A stiff pie-crust type of dough is what you’re seeking.
  4. Scoop out a handful of dough and roll it out about 3/8-inch thick on a very lightly floured work surface. Cut with a small, round scalloped cookie cutter or other simple shape. Avoid handling the dough any more than necessary. Transfer cookies to ungreased cookie sheets. Repeat with small portions of the dough at a time.
  5. Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until just set and pale golden.
  6. While cookies bake, stir together topping ingredients.
  7. When cookies are done, cool briefly on baking sheets, then gently dunk cookies in cinnamon sugar. Transfer to absorbent paper to finish cooling.

Yield: 6 dozen

A bit of history of this cookie:

  • Over the centuries, New Mexicans developed this cookie influenced by Spanish and indigenous ingredients and culture.
  • Biscochitos are reserved for special occasions and are especially associated with the holiday season.
  • This treat is the official cookie of New Mexico (signed into law in 1989).
  • Some recipes say to roll out the dough and cut into different shapes.   Fleur-de-lis, simple scalloped-edge circles or flowers seem to be most traditional.   I have even seen some cut out in milagro shapes.
  • It is traditional to use lard.

(This information was gleaned from WikipediaAlbuquerque’s Visitors and Convention site,  and What’s Cooking America.)

Obviously, this recipe makes enough for a lot of gift giving.  They keep well in sealable containers and freeze well, too.  I made these during the Thanksgiving holidays and took a huge bag to the in-laws and froze another big bag for the Christmas season.

What’s to come this holiday season?

  • Even more New Mexican inspired “gifts from the kitchen”
  • An heirloom family fruitcake recipe
  • Some more book gift ideas (This time some fiction.)

Please stay tuned.

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My Favorite Reads

Eat, Pray, Love
Running with Scissors
SantaLand Diaries
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Angela's Ashes
Naked
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
My Life in France
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: How One Girl Risked Her Marriage, Her Job, and Her Sanity to Master the Art of Living
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise
A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table
Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table
The Liars' Club
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The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo: A Novel
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