September 14, 2010

Biscochitos Come to Namibia!

New Mexico has its own official state cookie. Not to be outdone, we were the first to have a state cookie; indeed, we may still be the only. Biscochitos and their somewhat unique texture and flavor are so intrinsic to New Mexican cuisine that making them the state cookie had to be the easiest completely non-partisan bill the New Mexican Legislature has ever passed. There are lots of recipes for these cookies, most of them adhering to the traditional lard based dough that is cut into fleur-de-lis shapes for baking.

My recipe is a little richer with butter and brandy to amplify the taste. They are always a favorite so when I volunteered to contribute something for IWAN’s participation at the local Bio Market (think Farmer’s Market) bake sale here, I thought it would be fun to bring a little of New Mexico to Namibia.

Once I located an oven thermometer to tell me what the temps really are in my oven (the dial is hugely incorrect) and found out that everyone uses cake flour here for cookies, I was ready to go.

Improvising turned out to be no problem at all and the recipe cooked up just as reliably as at home.

I packed up the Biscochitos and headed for the Bio Market

where not a single soul bought one!

I take that back. One of my fellow IWAN members thought they were great, and bought about 3 of them (then asked for the recipe!) But save for her generous spirit, no one else wanted to try something other than what they already knew – beautiful cakes and German pastries.

I still maintain they missed out big time but I have learned my lesson.

Next time, I’m baking my Marmorkuchen.

It's German. It's cake. It's traditional.

They’ll like that.

Should you be interested, here’s a  traditional Biscochito recipe

Here’s my recipe if you prefer a richer tasting cookie:

New Mexican Biscochitos

Recipe originally from the Kitchen Shoppe, Albuquerque Coronado Ctr (1970's)

6 cups flour, all-purpose

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound butter (traditionally, you would use lard in the same amount)

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/8 cup anise seed (I usually add more as I like lots of anise flavor)

2 eggs

1/4 cup brandy (or more)

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift flour with baking powder and salt.

Cream shortening with sugar and anise seeds.

Beat eggs until light. Add to creamed mixture.

Add brandy to flour mixture and mix until blended.

Use only enough brandy to form a stiff dough.

Roll dough into balls about 1/2 inch in diameter

and press into circles with cookie stamp(or glass bottom)that has been dipped into sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes (or a little longer if necessary) until very

lightly browned on the edges.

Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Store in airtight container.

NOTE: Fully baked cookies keep well for about a week in the freezer.

Can last up to two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.

Yield: 108 cookies (9 doz)

You can substitute orange juice for the brandy for a more

traditional taste.