Bizcochitos

Bizcochitos

Did you know New Mexico has a state cookie?

Massachusetts does, too.

I discovered all of this when I was looking up state foods a few weeks ago. I must admit I'm a little jealous. My home state doesn't have a state cookie. Or a state cake (I'm looking at you, Maryland). Where is the baked goods love, North Dakota?

Massachusetts has wisely called dibs on the coveted chocolate chip cookie. Though there is not an "official" recipe, it's generally agreed upon that the cookie should include a few dried cherries. Pennsylvania very nearly had a state cookie, but the legislation has been held up. You see, the Pennsylvania House and Senate are in disagreement over whether to choose the chocolate chip cookie or the sugar cookie. It's a tough decision. They've even met three times to discuss the issue, with no success. It's a cookie stand off.

I imagine a decision of this magnitude must keep the legislators up at night.

In my personal opinion, I think Pennsylvania should pick the sugar cookie. Be a little original, Pennsylvania; there's no need to copy Massachusetts. Better yet, why not bring both cookies in on the next legislative session and cast a vote on the spot?

Bizcochitos

New Mexico, on the other hand, has chosen a state cookie I can respect. The Bizcochito is deeply rooted in the history of New Mexico. The recipe itself was developed by the first Spanish residents of New Mexico to reflect the local customs, culture, and flavors of the area. Over time, the Bizcochito has become a special occasion cookie served during weddings and religious holidays (particularly Christmas).

Though I hadn't heard of the Bizcochito until a few weeks ago, after making it I can agree that this cookie is definitely noteworthy. The Bizcochito stands out to me as incredibly unique, both in flavor and texture. A true Southwestern cookie.

Bizcochitos

The Bizcochito is a cinnamon anise shortbread cookie. Though the cookie itself is not very sweet, the cinnamon sugar topping rounds this out. The texture of these cookies are much more flaky than any shortbread cookie I've ever experienced. The flavors, too, are unique for a cookie. Orange zest, cinnamon, ginger, and anise come together to create this delicious ensemble. After you take a bite, a faint sprinkling of cinnamon sugar will grace your lips (which is only proper to lick clean)—the perfect ending to a perfect bite.

Note: While the traditional recipe calls for lard, I substituted butter with excellent results.

Bizcochitos
Adapted from Scarletta Bakes

Yields 3 dozen cookies

1 cup salted butter
3/4 cup + 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon anise seed
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Mix in the orange zest and anise seed.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and ground ginger.

Gradually beat in the flour mixture until well combined. If dough becomes too stiff for the mixer (and if you are using a hand mixer, it might), simply knead in the rest of the flour by hand. Form cookie dough into a flat round shape, cover with clear plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick and cut out with a cookie cutter of your choice. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned. Transfer to a cooling sheet and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.