Overview

Spiced cookies are a popular holiday treat all over the world, but we’re a fan of this one you’ll find in the American Southwest. The biscochito is New Mexico’s official state cookie, although the not-too-sweet, anise-flavored treat hails from Mexico. Lard creates an especially crisp and light texture, but vegetable shortening can be used instead.

Recipe notes: You’ll need one or two 2-inch cookie cutters, preferably stars and half-moons. And you may get an even greater yield depending on which shapes you use.

The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month. You may have cinnamon sugar left over; it’s not tough to find ways to use that up.

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Ingredients

1 1/4 cups (256 grams) lard, at room temperature (may substitute vegetable shortening)

1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 1 navel orange

3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 to 4 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons anise seed

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Steps

Step 1

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, combine the lard and 1 cup sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, liqueur, vanilla extract and zest, and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer to scrape down the bowl.

Step 2

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder until aerated and combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the bowl, then just enough of the water to form a dough. Add the anise seed and mix on low just until distributed.

Step 3

Divide the dough into two equal 1-inch-thick disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 1 day.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

Step 5

Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap one dough disk and roll it out to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes, transferring the cookies to the baking sheets and spacing them about 1 inch apart. If the dough is still fairly chilled/firm, it can be rerolled a few times; otherwise, gather together the scraps and refrigerate for 15 minutes before rerolling.

Step 6

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar over each cookie cutout.

Step 7

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until just set and lightly golden, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat with the remaining dough.

From the December 2001 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick and Barbara Strack; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here. The nutritional analysis is based on 72 cookies.

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Nutrition

Calories: 70; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 10 mg; Carbohydrates: 8 g; Dietary Fiber: 0 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 0 g.