BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO

This is my family’s favorite Christmas cookie and the recipe has been passed down for generations on my mom’s side. However, this buttery treat was originated in New Mexico by Santa Fe residents over the centuries from the first Spanish colonists. The origin of this Spanish treat dates back to the XVI century, a time when the region of Andalusia in Southern Spain experienced a surplus of grains and pork products. Around this time, they were popular in every house and specifically in religious convents like the famous Convent of Santa Clara, where the historical archives reference the kind of dishes and ingredients used to make these biscuits. They are often served during ‘Las Posadas’ celebrations in Mexico, in which guests reenact the biblical story of Joseph’s asking for shelter for himself and the pregnant Mary. And here’s a fun fact; it was named the State Cookie of New Mexico in 1989. Who knew? 

The history of this cookie is just as rich as its taste. So no, these are in no way low calorie, but they are worth every extra step on the treadmill. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Pro tip: Enjoy them with coffee in the morning. They are a perfectly acceptable breakfast meal during the month of December.

Ingredients

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter flavored Crisco

1 cup sugar

3 tsp crushed anise seeds

1 egg

1/3 cup brandy

1/2  tsp anise extract

1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon (mix this to dip cookies in before baking)

Directions Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Start by mixing all dry ingredients together; set aside. Cream crisco, sugar and anise seeds.  In a separate bowl, beat egg until fluffy and add to creamed mixture. Now we can add the flour mixture and brandy alternately. Mix until well blended. (Be warned, this is a dry dough, so feel free to add a bit more brandy if needed.) Knead slightly and pat to form a stiff dough. Roll dough to 1/2 inch thick. Traditionally, these are cut with a circle or star shape. Finally, dip each cookie into cinnamon-sugar mixture before baking. Bake at 350 degrees on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 8 minutes. 

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