Sunday, December 14, 2008
This time of year I always wish I were back home, enjoying the winter weather and celebrating the holidays and my birthday in the place where I was born. Since plans won't permit it this year, I decided to bring home to me in the form of nearly-traditional cookies: orange bizcochitos.
Bizcochitos, a New Mexican tradition, are one of my favorite cookies, partly because of the anise and partly because they are New Mexican. If they are made strictly according to tradition, they would contain a ton of lard and be shaped like little fleur-de-lis. While I have nothing against lard, it would probably spoil before I could use it all up, so this recipe uses butter instead.
One of the key ingredients in these cookies is anise. I truly enjoy the flavor and aroma of this spice, especially when I'm preparing it for baking. I use one of my handy mortar-and-pestles to grind the seeds.
The smaller one was purchased in New Mexico during a Christmas visit many years ago and I use it frequently for pulverizing small amounts of herbs or spices. The larger one, which has such a nice feel, was bought in Provence several years ago. It has a deep bowl, useful for larger quantities of spices. I'm always searching for mortars-and-pestles with character. There is something very satisfying about grinding your own spices by hand.
These orange bizcochitos are my new holiday cookie this year. They are easy to prepare and because the dough is chilled, it can be in the refrigerator, ready to bake fresh when needed. I used a decorative glass stamp to press the cookies rather than a regular glass, but the design sort of baked out, so it's probably not worth the extra effort. They still taste the same. The original recipe is in the November 2007 issue of Cooking Light, or here, online.
I am also sending this to Susan at Food Blogga for her annual Christmas Cookie Roundup (way too many delicious cookies over there!).