What Are Bizcochitos, New Mexico's State Cookie?

Whatever state you live in, you are probably familiar with the state flag, motto, maybe even the state bird or animal. But the state cookie? Not likely. In fact, according to The Christian Science Monitor, only two of America's fifty states have official state cookies. One is Massachusetts, which claims the chocolate chip cookie, and the other is New Mexico which established the bizcochito (also spelled biscochito) as their own in 1989, according to The Pueblo Chieftan. The name was taken from the Spanish word biscocho which Cambridge Dictionary says roughly translates to "sponge cake," but these simple cookies are anything but cakey.

New Mexico True notes that bizcochitos can be served for any kind of celebration in New Mexico, such as weddings and graduations, but are made in large quantities around Christmas time in particular. The cookies' texture are reminiscent of baked shortbread; the dough is meant to be rolled out and then shaped with cutouts, much like other seasonal cookies like gingerbread and sugar cookies. The ingredients in bizcochitos, however, are truly unique, creating a confection that is light, delicate, and super delicious, perfect for eating alongside a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, or tea.

What are bizcochitos and where did they come from?

According to blogger Teresa Donvalpage, bizcochitos likely came from Spain in the 16th century when Spanish conquistadors brought them to the New World. The Christian Science Monitor notes that the original cookies were not sweet and were meant to be a long-lasting food item. They cookies were traded with Native Americans and were famously eaten in celebration of the Mexican Army's defeat of the French at Puebla in 1862. This happened on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that is celebrated in both New and Old Mexico today. Over time, the cookie took on the influence of both Mexican and Native American cultures and became the cookie that is made today.

Bizcochitos are made from a basic cookie dough that contains things like flour, sugar, baking powder, and eggs. What sets bizochitos apart from any other type of cookie is the addition of anise (its main flavoring ingredient), lard, and sweet white wine/brandy/rum, per New Mexico True. The resulting cookie should be soft, flaky, and unforgettable.

How do you make bizcochitos?

New Mexico Magazine suggests first sifting flour, baking powder, and salt to ensure there are no lumps. Then, the lard needs to be beaten with sugar and ground anise. Before you stop reading because you've seen the word "lard," know that it's not as bad as it was once considered to be! Lard is natural pork fat that is crucial for making other flaky bakes like pie crust. Prevention Magazine even says that it has less saturated fat than butter, containing mainly unsaturated (better known as the good kind of) fat, and is a great source of vitamin D. And hardcore bizcochito bakers will tell you that the lard is essential and responsible for the cookie's flaky texture and rich taste. 

Once the fat is creamed, eggs are incorporated and finally, the flour mixture and sweet spirit is added. If you prefer something alcohol-free, you should go with pineapple or apple juice, says New Mexico True. Once formed, the dough is rolled out, cut into shapes, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and baked.

The traditional shape of the cookie is the French lily or fleur-de-lis (a reference to the Battle of Puebla suggests blogger Teresa Donvalpage), but any shape can be used. You may notice that many recipes for bizcochitos yield several dozen cookies. This is because the light and scrumptious cookies are often eaten many at a time, given as gifts, or for celebration.