If you had to choose a favourite cookie, what would it be? That question is, of course, entirely unfair as any hard-thought response would (and should) begin, "well, it depends..."
If pressed I'd lean towards a perfectly made ginger snap, but each biscuit has a moment, a time when it, and it alone, is perfectly suited to your needs. Sometimes it's the desire for a crispy/chewy anzac, at others a big and blousy chocolate rye really can't be beat. A simple shortbread, the indulgence of a cream-filled Monte Carlo... And then there's always the classic chocolate chip, with its chunks of dark chocolate gently oozing as you devour it still-warm from the oven...
Not only do I find this question unfair, I feel it is also entirely unnecessary. Honestly, why choose a favourite cookie when you don't have to? But not everyone has such a hard time deciding. New Mexico, in fact, are so sure of it that they have made it their state cookie. It's called the bizcochito - a shortbread-style biscuit laced with orange and anise, and covered in a crunchy cinnamon sugar crust. And it's delicious.
BIZCOCHITOS (Adapted from this recipe by Pastry Affair)
- 220 g butter*, softened
- 150 g caster sugar, plus 50 g extra
- 2 eggs
- Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300 g plain flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp anise seeds, lightly crushed
- 6-8 slices candied orange*, crushed
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 50 g dark chocolate, melted
Cream the butter and 150 g sugar until pale. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then mix in the vanilla and grated zest. Sift together the flour, baking powder and ginger and fold through the butter mixture along with the anise seeds and candied orange, beating until well combined. Press the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes, until firm.
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Mix together the cinnamon and 50 g extra caster sugar and set aside. Roll the dough to 6-mm-thick and cut out rounds, or other shapes of your choice. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 175°C for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. To decorate, dip or drizzle with melted dark chocolate.
Makes 20, 7-cm-diameter biscuits.
** Bizcochitos are traditionally made with lard, which gives them a much flakier texture. If you can find it try making them with a mixture of both, so that you get the flakiness from the lard but still have the rich, creamy flavour of butter.
** I used dried slices of candied orange (rather than candied strips stored in syrup), to give the biscuits some extra crunch.