A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 07, 2008
Biscochitos or Bizcochitos (anise seed cookies)

Biscochitos (or “bizcochitos") are anise seed cookies, often made into a fleur-de-lis shape. In 1989, bizcochitos were named the official state cookie of New Mexico. Biscochos (Spanish for “biscuits") have been served in the Americas for hundreds of years, often for Christmas celebrations.

“Biscochitos” are cited in print from at least 1940.


Wikipedia: Bizcochito
Bizcochito or biscochito (IPA: [bis.ko.ˈtʃi.to] in Spanish or /bɪz.kɔ.ˈtʃi.tɔ/ in English) is a crispy butter cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon. It was developed by residents of New Mexico over the centuries from the first Spanish colonists of New Mexico. The recipe for making the cookie has been greatly influenced not only by local and indigenous customs, but also by recipes brought to New Mexico by immigrants from other Hispanic countries. It is served during special celebrations, such as wedding receptions, baptisms, and religious holidays (especially during the Christmas season). It is usually eaten with morning coffee or milk, after lunch in the early afternoon, or dinner late at night. The cookie is seldom known outside its various territories.

State cookie
In 1989, the U.S. State of New Mexico adopted the bizcochito as its official state cookie. This act made New Mexico the first state to have an official cookie. It was chosen to help maintain traditional home-baked cookery.

New Mexico Symbols: State Cookie
Bizcochito
Adopted in 1989.
Bizcochito (bees-ko-CHEE-toh)

This act made New Mexico the first state to have an official cookie. The biscochito is a small anise flavored, shortbread cookie used during special celebrations, wedding receptions, baptisms, and religious days, continuing a tradition brought by the Spaniards. It was chosen to help maintain traditional home baked cookery

In 1989, Frances Mitchelle Maldonado, (owner of Enchantment Delights in Albuquerque and was famous for baking her delicious Josecito-Biscochitos) worked on passing New Mexico House Bill 406 declaring the Bizcochito as the official State Cookie.

Bizcochito recipe
(Note: There is no “State Recipe” for the State Cookie.)
1 pound pure lard
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
6 cups flour
1/4 cup red wine
2 tsp. anise seed (slightly crushed)
1 cup sugar mixed with 2-3 tsp. cinnamon

Cream lard until fluffy. Add sugar slowly gradually, beating well. Add eggs one at a time beating well. Add anise seed. Mix in flour by hand, using enough wine to make dough soft. Let stand about 10 minutes.

Use cookie press or roll out dough on lightly floured board and cut into squares. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes on ungreased cookie sheets. Remove from sheets while hot and dip top side in sugar/cinnamon mixture.

The recipe donor said, “Cooking sherry or brandy can be used and lard is a must even if the health conscious cringe. The lard is what makes them light. You can’t make bizcochitos without lard.”

Cookies of New Mexico
Biscochitos (Anise Seed Cookies)
Yield: 5 dozen
Baking Time: 10-12 minutes
Temperature: 350°F
Freeze Well

1 pound lard
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons anise seed
2 eggs, beaten
6 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brandy*
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Cream lard, sugar, and anise seed in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
3. Alternately add flour and brandy to creamed mixture until stiff dough has been formed.
4. Knead dough slightly and pat or roll to a 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough into desired shapes.
5. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Dust the top of each cookie with a small amount of mixture.
6. Bake in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned.
* Varied amounts may be used. Bourbon or sherry may be substituted.
NOTE: The fleur-de-lis shape is traditional for these cookies.

What’s Cooking America
Biscochitos/Bizcochitos - Anise Seed Cookies
Usually every Christmas gathering in New Mexico serves these wonderful biscochitos. Biscochitos are said to be native to New Mexico, where they are traditionally made with lard. Other names associated with biscochitos are names such as Polvorones or Mexican Wedding Cookies. In Spain they are called Mantecosos. As the “Original Mexican Wedding Cookie” these gourmet treats were cut in the diamond shape because the diamond signified purity for the wedding.  They were then sprinkled with white powdered sugar so that everything would be white.

The biscochito (bees-ko-CHEE-toh) was declared New Mexico’s official State Cookie with House Bill 406 in 1989. The battle over the state cookie was not about adopting it but how to spell it.  Several lawmakers got on the House floor to press for the “s” or"z".  Eventually the Senate returned it as “bizcochito”. (...)

Your Mexican Kitchen:
A Compilation of Mexican Recipes Practicable in the United States
by Natalie V. Scott
New York, NY: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
1935
Pg. 32:
BIZCOCHITOS
Biscuit-dough, rolled out to 1/4 of an inch thickness, and cut in rhomboid shapes, about 1/2 an inch long, is dropped in very hot lard or butter, then taken out and served in any coup. You will find it a pleasant variation from the more usual croutons.

Cooking...South of the Rio Grande
by George Luther Nelson
San Antonio, TX: The Nolan Printing Company
1935
Pg. 35:
Bizcochitos
Cookies
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
Pinch of salt
4 tablespoons hot water
1 cup butter
4 tablespoons brandy or whisky (...)

Google Books
Our Southwest
by Erna Fergusson
New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf
1940
Pg. 249:
A present brings another present: a pat of cheese, a jar of jam, a loaf of bread, perhaps a few crisp biscochitos, ...

Google Books
Los Hispanos (New Mexico Series 1):
Five Essays on the Folkways of the Hispanos
by Aurora Lucero-White
Denver, CO: Saga Books
1947
Pg. 7:
The dining room table was stacked with fiesta goodies—candy, raisins, store cookies, home-made bizcochitos (anise-flavored cakes), pop and wine.

23 August 1969, New York (NY) Times, “Santa Fe’s Expert Tinsmith, Caterer, and Enchilada-Maker” by Jean Hewitt, pg. 18:
BISCOCHITOS
(Anise seed cookies)
2 cups lard
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons anise seed
6 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup orange juice or water
Cinnamon sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the lard and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the yolks and the anise seed.
3. Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the orange juice.
4. Knead the mixture to make a pliable dough that can be rolled.
5. Roll out dough 1/8-inch thick and cut into fancy shapes with cooky cutters. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. bake eight to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Yield: About six dozen depending on size.

13 December 1970, Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News, pg. 24, col. 2:
Mrs. Arthur O. Lucero shares her family’s favorite bizcochos recipe. Bizcocho—that thin, diamon-shaped cookie that’s spiced with cinnamon and anise seed and, by tradition, made with lard—always with lard. Any oldtime New Mexico cooks insists a bizcocho loses its flavor, in fact it’s just not a bizcocho, unless it’s made with lard.

Mrs. Lucero’s bizcocho recipe calls for 6 cups sifted flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 pound lard, 3/4 cup sugar, three teaspoons or 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 3/4-cup water, or if you prefer, wine or orange juice—but, please, no sour wine, two eggs and 2 teaspoons anise seed (better to grind it).

Sift flour, measure and sift again with baking powder and salt. Sift at least three times. Cream lard until fluffy, then add eggs and mix; add cinnamon, sugar and continue beating until smooth. Alternately add flour mixture and liquid, working until smooth and evenly mixed. Divide dough into quarters.

Lightly flour board and also rolling pin. Roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness, cut into triangles or other shapes with a sharp knife.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until light brown. While hot, dip cookies lightly in cinnamon and sugar mixture which is made from 1 tablespoons cinnamon blended with 1 cup sugar, or until the desired shade of brown.

29 November 1975, “Trick-or-treating Christmas Custom for Children in Spanish Settlements,” Simpson’s Leader-Times (Kittanning, PA), pg. 6, col. 5:
Housewives met the threat with special pies, candy, fruit and cookies, including fried cookies called bunuelos and bizcochitos, which resembled little cupcakes.

22 December 1986, New York (NY) Times, “Age-Old Ritual Enriches New Mexico Christmas,” pg. A21:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Dec. 21—For the people of New Mexico, Christmas means posole, a hominy and chili stew, and the anise-flavored cookies known as bizcochitos as well as Christmas ham and egg nog.

12 August 1987, Doylestown (PA) Daily Intelligencer, “No Tex-Mex for Santa Fe; it’s authentic Southwestern good” by Phyllis Hanes, pg. 44A, cols. 4-5:
Aniseed cookies, called biscochitos, are said to be a traditional Christmas cookie in the Southwest, but you will see them year-round at the pueblos and in many homes. Something like a sugar cookie, they are often cut in a fleur-de-lis shape, but you will also see them round.

BISCOCHITOS
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon aniseed or 1/8 teaspoon anise extract
1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream or blend shortening and sugar. Beat in egg. Add and mix in flour and baking powder and seasonings. pat out dough into 2 1/2-inch rounds, or chill dough in refrigerator, then roll out on floured board. Sprinkle top of cookies with cinnamon mixture and arrange close together on greased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes until cookies are light tan, or bake for 15 minutes for a crisper, browner cookie.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, February 07, 2008 • Permalink