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A cookie recipe illustrates to us how times have changed

Biscochitos are the official state cookie of New Mexico, and in the interests of full disclosure I must tell you that they are normally made with lard. That brings me to the changing times, in that lard was very commonly used up until about the time of World War II, or thereabouts, and now it has fallen out of use. In the Southwest lard is still used extensively in regional cooking, though, and the original recipe for these crispy-crunchy "butter cookies" (that were originally made with lard) can still be achieved. All you have to do is substitute an equal quantity of lard for the half-pound of butter and proceed.

Lard nowadays is quite refined, as you know if you ever use it for pie crust. I would imagine that it also has less of its own flavor, for that same reason. So either way, this is a recipe for a festive dessert with coffee, when you have served a rich dinner and you want to sneak up on your diners with something understated.




3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons anise seeds, pounded to a powder (use a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons rum or bourbon


1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

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

Beat the butter in an electric mixer, gradually adding the sugar. Cream until the mixture is extremely fluffy and light, about 8 minutes.

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

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 are seeking

Chill the dough for about 15 minutes for easy handling.

Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with small cookie cutter
Place the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until just set and pale golden.

While the cookies bake, whisk together the topping ingredients. When the cookies come out of the oven, cool for just a minute or two on the baking sheets, then sprinkle the top of each with the cinnamon-sugar topping.

Transfer the cookies to absorbent paper to finish cooling. Biscochitos, tightly covered, will keep for at least a week.

You could freeze these cookies in an airtight container and they will fare as well as any other cookie; I have kept gingerbread cutout cookies for three months or so after baking, and cookie dough keeps for weeks if you freeze it as well.

This recipe also calls for 3 cups of flour, which will make several dozen cookies. But handling that much flour in a pastry recipe can cause the flour to toughen after the use of an electric mixer for more than a few minutes. To avoid this, you can chill the dough for half an hour before baking.

Another thing I would recommend is the use of a soft flour, such as Arizona Rose flour, for the recipe.

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