You have to use lard if you’re going to make bizcochitos.
I can’t remember the first time I had the traditional New Mexican Christmas cookie but I remember the second year I lived in Albuquerque, when I was having a dinner party, and a friend brought a slew of them that she and her mother made. There are certain things you don’t mess with (like putting colored sprinkles on them) but not using lard changes the flavor. And once a year, why not?
On my birthday Saturday my friend Monica came over to help me make bizcochitos (really, she did most of the work) for a party I’m having this Saturday night.
The recipe we used is from New Mexico Magazine and you can find it here. However, instead of whiskey we used vanilla and don’t tell Monica’s mom but I had bought the Penzey’s ground anise instead of the full seed (which you would crush and then add to the dough) which definitely violates tradition although Monica agreed it gave it a smooth flavor rather than the crushed pieces.
Still, the cookies came out great. One note of caution: add the anise in small doses because not everyone likes that licorice flavor although that’s what makes a bizcochito the traditional cookie that it is.