Christmas in New Mexico is nothing without biscochitos, shortbread-like cookies laced with anise seeds and spices. I've been making these treats for my family for as long as I can remember; my trusty guide was always a slim bound cookbook called Cocinas de New Mexico, published by our local electrical company (the recipes are written by the employees and the proceeds go to paying the utility bills for struggling families).
Naturally this means I've developed my own spin on this cookie over the years, swapping out the traditional brandy for local Silver Coyote Whiskey (a magical twist discovered when I was making cookies last year and found myself out of brandy but with plenty of my favorite tipple from Santa Fe Spirits--they also have a wickedly good gin).
I like to use whole wheat flour and quality organic ingredients--they make all the difference for flavor and health--and I mix more anise than the traditional recipe calls for. But you know me, I'm a spice whore and like it that way, so much so that I put in cinnamon and ginger in my batter--also my own twist.
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons anise seeds
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 & 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup Silver Coyote Whiskey or brandy of your choice
1/4 cup water (if needed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
For cinnamon-sugar dusting:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, sugar, anise, cinnamon, and ginger in mixing bowl. Add egg until combined. Mix together remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Alternate adding dry ingredients and whiskey to your mix until everything is combined. You might need to add a little water for the dough to complete take shape after that. If that is the case, add a few tablespoons of water at a time until you get desired consistency, a semi-firm dough that you can easy roll on a floured surface.
On a floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut dough into festive shapes and placed on unlined cookie sheet. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. While they cook, combine remaining cinnamon and sugar and set aside in a shallow bowl. Let cool for about two minutes before dipping into cinnamon-sugar mix. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen. Keep for up to one week. Enjoy!
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