For people who have never heard of this rum-anise shortbread it’s hard to explain the cultural significance they have to people from New Mexico. Although my father is a native New Mexican, growing up in Texas I never tasted these little golden gems that melt in your mouth, until I was in my mid thirties. I spent 3 years in New Mexico and suddenly they were everywhere. especially at Christmas time. These were one of the first things I felt challenged to bake and get right. I read a lot of recipes and asked loads of people for advice. Although there are slight variations in the recipes most are quite similar. They are traditionally made from lard, sugar,anise, and some type of booze typically brandy,rum or sweet wine. Any recipe that omits the booze I dismiss. The lard can be substituted with butter or shortening but I have settled on 1/2 lard 1/2 shortening.
When I mentioned to my father that I had made biscochitos for the first time his face lit up and he reminisced about his own mother making them.Every year I make hundreds of these for gifts for teachers, colleagues,neighbours and get great feedback from them!
The recipe I use now was modified from San Felipe de Niri, parish cookbook. This is my mom’s parish and if you are ever in Albuquerque New Mexico please visit this historical landmark as it one of the oldest building in the region being founded in 1706.
Depending on what size cookie cutter you use depends on how many you will get. I used a 3.5cm flower cookie cutter and made 156 of them. I don’t know if I would go much bigger as they are quite rich.
You need to have an assembly line set up to make it fairly easy. This is a great recipe for the family as you can assign jobs to people and everyone feels involved. I do this every-year with my two daughters around the holidays.
Preheat oven to 170 C
720g plain flour
3tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
454g lard or shortening ( I did 1/2 of each)
300g caster sugar
2tsp anise seed
120 ml brandy or rum
50g sugar & 1 Tbsp Cinnamon combined together
Sift flour with baking powder and salt
Cream shortening with sugar and anise seed, using mixer on medium speed
Beat eggs until light and fluffy
Add eggs to creamed mixture
Add flour mixture
Use alcohol to bind dough (only use enough liquid to form stiff dough, drink any remaining alcohol)
Knead slighly and roll out,cut out with cookie cutter
Bake 10-13 minutes until golden brown
While still hot carefully roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture