New Mexico's State Cookie : Bizcochitos
I've written about Florida's Key Lime pie and Massachusett's Boston Cream pie, both declared their official state's dessert, but New Mexico was the first to have a state cookie: the bizcochito (bees-ko-CHEE-toh). In 1989, New Mexico lawmakers passed House Bill 406. They didn't the battle over the adoption, but how to spell the cookie's name. Several lawmakers of the House floor desired an "s" others a "z" and eventually the stalemate resulted in the cookie's press credentials as "bizcochito".
According to my limited research, the first Christmas celebration in Mexico took place back in 1538, when a Fransican Monk, Fray Pedro de Gante invited the native tribe surrounding the mission to celebrate Christ's birth. Over the years many pueblo people were converted to Christianity and began to incorporate the holiday customs into their culture.
Christmas in Mexico begins on December 16th -- the day Las Posadas begins. The posadas re-enact Mary and Joseph’s travel to Bethlehem and search for lodging. They roles are often played by friends and family who travel from house to house looking for shelter. The posadas last for 9 days, up until Noche Buena or Christmas Eve. At the last house all are welcomed into a festive party. Many southwestern restaurants now honor this celebration with gala menus on December 24th.
Traditionally the end to each posada has been a piñata made in the shape of a star, to recall the one that guided the Three Kings to the newborn Jesus. Now piñatas come in all shapes and sizes and are filled with candy, toys, and sometimes money.
In addition to the the posadas meals, bizcochitos are treats frequently made and served at Christmas.The rolled anise and cinnamon wafers are similar to sugar cookies, but also resembles shortbread. They can be cut into shapes or left round; either way and on any day, holiday or not, they are officially New Mexico's state cookie.
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Recipe for Bizcochitos
The traditional recipe below includes lard. Personally I prefer butter, but offer the authentic version.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of lard
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 cups flour
1 tablespoon anise seeds - crushed
Cinnamon sugar for dusting
Combine 3 or 4 eggs (depending on size) with 1 cup of sugar, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 cup of lard. Mix ingredients thoroughly.
After eggs, sugar and vanilla are mixed thoroughly, add 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 4 cups of flour. Mix in 1 tablespoon anise seeds (crushed to bring out the flavor). Mix into a dough the consistency of pie crust dough.
Roll the dough thin and cut cookies. Dip tops in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar before baking.
Bake at 350 for 12 to 15 Minutes