Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noel! Happy Christmas! Traditions and flavors of New Mexico are a constant part of our lives- especially at Christmas. And what would the Christmas season be without a Biscochito? Sometimes spelled “Bizcochito”, these anise and cinnamon flavored cookies came to New Mexico as early as the 16th century, likely brought there by the Spanish conquistadors. These cookies are among my favorites to make during the holidays. They are light, flakey, flavorful, and not too sweet. Traditionally made with lard, I have modified my recipe to use vegetable shortening. They are still light, flakey, and utterly delicious. They are also dairy-free, so if the people in your life are both gluten-free and dairy-free (many of mine are) this cookie is sure to please everyone. They melt in your mouth and have none of the ‘gluten-free’ texture that typically marks many baked goods. They are also fun to make- the Kitchen Divas in Training enjoy squishing the diamond points together. Wherever you find yourself this Holiday- may you experience love, light, joy, and gluten-free deliciousness!
Gluten-Free Biscochitos (Bizcochitos)-about 5 doz
1 lb vegetable shortening (4 sticks) or 1 lb lard
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 tsp anise seeds
2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup millet flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup brandy, cognac or bourbon
1/4 cup white sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Set out eggs and allow them to come to room temperature. In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer, or other large bowl, cream shortening, sugar, and anise until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and continue to beat until smooth. Add a little flour and mix. Then a little brandy. Keep alternating flour and brandy until everything is mixed together. The dough will be very stiff. Separate the dough into 3 large balls. Flatten, wrap in parchment or plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, take out one package, break off a chunk of dough and roll it out on a piece of floured parchment paper (I use cornstarch).There should be enough oil in the dough that it won’t stick to your rolling pin. If you find the dough sticking, smooth cornstarch over your rolling pin, or lightly sprinkle a bit of cornstarch on the dough- it will get incorporated, but will help with any stickiness you may encounter. Roll dough to about 1/4″ thickness. With a knife, cut squares out of the dough- biscochitos are traditionally shaped into diamonds or fleur-de-lis. Make a cut in the corner of each square. Be sure to only go part-way towards the center, or you will cut your cookie in half! This will leave four triangle-ish sides. Pinch the corners of each triangle together, pushing towards the middle. This bunches the cookie up and helps create the light, flakey texture. Don’t worry about perfection! This is a very forgiving cookie, and the shapes are pretty hard to mess up. Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon/sugar mixture just prior to sticking in the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-11 minutes. They will not look done when you pull them out, but will harden as they cool. If you leave them in longer than 11 minutes, they will be too dry.