Williams-Sonoma - The Southwest
I have always loved the cooking of the Southwest. Spicy. Exotic (for a New Englander!). Tasty. But true American, for it encompasses the cooking traditions of the Native Americans and various cultures that "visited" that certain part of the States. May I add....a delicious blending of cultures.
The author, Kathi Long has long been a "staple" at the Santa Fe Cooking School and she really knows her chilies! (Even though she originated from the MidWest...but then again, as Americans, most of us or our ancestors originated from somewhere else...)
These cookies are traditional Christmas cookies of New Mexico, but you can see and enjoy them throughout the year. The aniseed was introduced to the region by the Spanish in the early 19th century and the fleur-de-lys shape is a reminder of the French expeditions in the area in the 18th century.
1 cup lard or vegetable shortening, at room temperatore
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon freshly ground canela or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of kosher salt
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons aniseed, toasted
2 tablespoons dark rum or brandy
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium high speed, beat together the lard or shortening and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the salt and egg. Reduce speed to low and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and aniseed. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the lard or shortening mixture and beat until just combined. Add the rum or brandy and mix until combined. If the dough still seems too dry to hold together, add water. 1 teaspoon at a time, until the dough comes together.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Gather the scraps, reroll and cut out more cookies until the dough is used up. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle with the canela-sugar mixture.
Bake the cookies, one baking sheet at a time, until puffed and very lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to racks to cool completely. Repeat with the reminaing cookies.
The cookies will keep for 3-4 days in a cool dry place, such as an airtight tin, between layers of parchment or waxed paper.