If you like to bake, you must try Bizcochitos, a traditional New Mexican anise-flavored sugar cookie. As a New Mexican, I grew up eating and making Bizcochitos for special occasions. The cookies are not hard to make, but you have to use lard, not shortening or butter, or you will not achieve the same light, delicate cookie. Here is my favorite version of the recipe, which I have adapted from many versions I have tried over the years.
1 cup lard, room temp.
2/3 cup sugar
2 t. anise, crushed
1 T cinnamon
2 egg yolks, room temp
1/3 c red wine
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
In a mixer, beat lard and sugar with the anise until the mixture is very light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and the cinnamon. Sift the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the mixture alternately with the wine until the mixture forms a soft ball. Remove from mixer and mold into 2 discs; wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Remove one disc at a time from refrigerator and roll to 1/4 in on wax paper with flour-covered rolling pin and cut into small shapes, like stars or hearts, dipping cookie cutter into flour every few cookies (or place dough in a cookie press and press out cookies.) If you have enough baking sheets cut out all your cookies and return baking sheets to refrigerator until you are ready to bake. Then, bake cookies in a hot oven, 375, for about 9 minutes (bake a sample batch to test your oven) Cookies should be golden brown around edges.
While cookies are still warm, dredge in Superfine sugar mixed with cinnamon, and place on trays to cool. Cookies must be refrigerated as they contain lard. These cookies freeze very well, and actually improve in taste, if that is possible. I make about 17 dozen cookies, and I get about 3.5 dozen cookies per cookie sheet.
I have made several variations, such as adding chipotle powder, or using orange zest and orange juice or orange liqeur instead of the wine; lemon zest, raspberry lemonade concentrate with raspberry liqeur--cutting down on the cinnamon to 1 t.
The commercial versions of these cookies never come up to what you can produce in your own kitchen, so if you like to bake, try these wonderful bizcochitos--I know they will become your favorite, too.