As we approach Christmas Day, I wanted to share one last New Mexican tradition – bizcochitos. These little cookie treats were developed by early Spanish settlers in New Mexico. They are crispy, flavored with anise and cinnamon, and much like sugar cookies can be shaped with cookie cutters into any shape you like. Alternatively, the dough can be rolled into a log and the cookies sliced into rounds. They’re also the official state cookie of New Mexico.
You’ll probably notice that they’re made with lard. These days most people eschew lard and that’s too bad. It’s very tasty and contains no triglycerides. In fact, it contains just 40% saturated fat (compared to butter’s 60%), its monounsaturated fat (the good fat) is 45% (compared to butter’s 23%). Also, it’s made from pig fat and is, thus, a close relation to bacon and we all know bacon makes everything better. For those of you who are squeamish about lard you can make the following substitutions for 1 cup of lard – 1 cup shortening or cup vegetable oil or 1 cup butter. I have made these with butter and they’re really good, but to go all out – try the lard!
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup lard
1 tsp. baking powder
4 cups flour
1 tbs. anise seeds (crushed)
- Combine 3 or 4 eggs (depending on size) with 1 cup of sugar, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 cup of lard. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
- After eggs, sugar and vanilla are mixed thoroughly, add 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 4 cups of flour. Mix in 1 tablespoon anise seeds (crushed to bring out the flavor). Mix into a dough, it should be the consistency of pie crust dough.
- Roll out dough thick or thin (however you prefer). Cut cookies and dip in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
- Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 Minutes