Roughly seven years ago I bought some aniseed, and then had no idea what to make with it. So I searched around online and found this recipe for these little Christmas cookies. I have made them every Christmas since then. I love the spicy aniseed taste combined with the ever so slight lemon flavour.

Over the years I have adjusted the recipe, since I felt initially the dough was too soft and sticky to roll out well, and I like a stronger aniseed flavour than the original recipe suggested.

Having done a little more reading since then, I know that the recipe for these cookies is not strictly speaking - authentic. The originals are made with lard (these are made with butter) and they normally do not have lemon, but either a sweet wine or sherry in them. However this slightly altered version is still completely worth making. They are the official state cookie of New Mexico, and are often served at celebrations, particularly Christmas.

This recipe makes quite a large number, so often I’ll make up the whole quantity of dough and then just bake half of it, and freeze the other half to make up later. It makes roughly 55 cookies.

Lemon Bizcochitos

  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 11/2 cups of sugar
  • 200 grams/8 oz of butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tspns of lemon juice
  • 2 tspns aniseed crushed
  • 1 tspn finely grated lemon zest
  • cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling on top

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl set aside

Beat 1 1/2 cups of sugar and the butter together in another bowl until pale and creamy.

Add eggs, lemon juice, aniseed and lemon peel and mix. Add in the dry ingredients.

Place in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc and chill until firm enough to roll out. This will be roughly 2 hours or so.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and prepare a baking tray with parchment.

Roll out the dough to 3-4 mm/1/8th of an inch thick and cut into shapes with a cutter, place on the tray with a little room to spread and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for roughly 12 minutes until just starting to turn golden on the edges.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container. These little cookies keep well and stay crisp for a long time.

These lovely little cookies have become a Christmas tradition in our house, but I do make them at times other than Christmas, because they are just too good to be eaten only once a year.