Biscochitos are an awesome little cookie that you can’t go without seeing here in New Mexico at Christmas time. By seeing I mean everywhere. It is our official State Cookie after all. Biscochitos are a traditional Christmas cookie topped with cinnamon and sugar with recipes having been passed down for generations in New Mexico.
There are many variations to the Traditional biscochito recipe but the consensus is pretty clear about two ingredients: you need lard and you need alcohol. Brandy is the most frequently written suggestion for the biscochito recipe, however people say to use, rum, white wine or whiskey and a little milk. There is even a traditional recipe from Chama, New Mexico which replaces the alcohol with orange juice. I have made biscochitos without any type of alcohol and they weren’t very good. My personal conclusion is that you either need the alcohol for the recipe or you need to be drunk to appreciate these cookies. Either way, don’t forget the brandy.
Another interesting ingredient in biscochitos is LARD. Yes, Lard. Manteca. Snow Cap Lard. I’ve been told that you have to use the 1 pound squares, not the tub, in order for your biscochitos to come out right. I have used the tub and my biscochitos didn’t come out right. Superstitious cooking. My favorite.
I feel like this recipe is slightly more involved than my shortbread cookie recipe and certainly not as kid friendly as Rice Krispies Cutouts. Whether or not the kids can get involved in the baking process, they still love to involve themselves in the process of devouring, so everyone is happy with biscochitos.
I have lived in New Mexico my entire life and this is the first year that I have made Biscochitos myself. The thing about Biscochitos in New Mexico is that you can’t go ten feet without someone selling them from a roadside stand, in all the local shops, even major grocery chains and convenience stores sell them. You can get them anywhere. And you only have to buy them if you don’t know people. Like you literally live in a cave alone in the mountains. It’s then and only then that you might have to buy some, because if you know at least one person either them, their cousin, their Uncle or their Grandma make Biscochitos by the boat-load and therefore, you will undoubtedly be getting a bag for Christmas. True story.
You can search high and low, ask everyone here in New Mexico, and the recipe for Biscochitos all yield the same results – 5 dozen cookies. At minimum. Most traditional biscochito recipes yield more. Which is probably why you can buy them anywhere and everywhere and everyone you know is giving them away. I don’t even think that anyone has ever thought to cut down the recipe. IN my attempts to find a smaller recipe I came across a BIG BATCH recipe. Bigger than the normal 6 dozen cookies. But these cookies are so good you wouldn’t want less!
EDIT: After revisiting this post to discover and remedy a missing ingredient – I also wanted to make sure that you knew about “The Argument” about bake time.
I prefer a softer Biscochito. It should be harder than a sugar cookie but softer than a ginger snap in my opinion.
Apparently, I am the only one in this house that thinks this way. The Mr. says that Biscochitos should be hard cookies. They only crack right before your teeth do, according to him. That’s how his grandma made them. He’s not alone in his thinking.
I won “The Argument” becuase, well, I do the cooking. BUT you can cook them to the hardness you prefer.
This traditional New Mexican Christmas Cookie was named the State Cookie of New Mexico in 1989. Simple ingredients with a high yield and few variations.
- 2 Cups Lard One pound block - snow cap
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 tsp Anise Seed
- 2 Eggs
- 6 Cups Flour
- 3 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/4 Cup Brandy You can substitute with Rum, White Wine, or Whiskey
- Cinnamon and Sugar for topping
Beat in the eggs and blend until fluffy.
Add alcohol, flour, baking powder, salt and knead until well mixed
Roll 1/2 inch thick and use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes or rounds.
Sprinkle top of each cookie with cinnamon sugar mixture
Bake at 400 degrees for approximately 7-10 minutes