For me, the Holidays start when I bake a batch of Bizcochitos, the traditional Mexican anise-flavored sugar cookie I grew up making as a child in New Mexico, where I watched my great-aunt make them. There ae many versions of these cookies, and this is my favorite. These cookies are not to be confused with sugar cookies, as they must be made with lard, not shortening or butter or you will not achieve the same light, delicate texture, and the anise is very important! I use tiny cookie cutters in star shapes for the Holidays and heart shapes for Valentine's Day.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/8 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 cup lard
1/3 cup red wine
2/3 cup sugar, preferably Baker's sugar
2 t anise, crushed
1/2 cup sugar and 2 t cinnamon for dusting
Sift together flour,baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In your mixer, cream lard with cup sugar until very, very fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, and the anise. Slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with red wine. Mixture should form a soft ball. Divide the dough into 2 discs; wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured board, roll each disc to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into small shapes. If you have enough baking sheets, cut out all your cookies and put them on baking sheets and refrigerate until yu are ready to bake all the cookies. Then bake cookies in a hot oven (375) for about 9 minutes. Bake a sample batch with a few cookies to test your oven. Cookies should be golden brown around the edges.
While cookies are still warm, dredge in Superfine sugar and cinnamon mixture and allow to cool. Bizcochitos must be refrigerated because they contain lard. They freeze actually freeze and actually improve in taste.
Add Chipotle powder; use orange zest and orange liqeuer instead of wine; use lemon zest and raspberry lemonade concentrate instead of the wine and cut cinnamon to 1/2 T.
The commercial versions of these cookies never come up to what you can produce in your own kitchen, so if you like Bizcochitos, try making them and they will become your favorite, too.