These anise-flavored cookies are rich, crisp, and very easy to make. A holiday favorite and the state cookie of New Mexico, they can be frozen in a tightly sealed container for up to six months. The shortbread cookies, preferably made with lard, originated as a way to celebrate the May 5, 1862, Mexican victory over Napoleon’s army—the first Cinco de Mayo!

1½ cups lard, chilled

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons          
   sugar, divided

2 eggs

2 teaspoons aniseed

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

About 3 tablespoons brandy
   (or apple juice or milk)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Makes 4 dozen cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat lard until it looks like whipped cream. Then add 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and aniseed, then beat until batter is very light.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to creamed mixture in four different additions with some of the brandy each time, beating on low to combine the ingredients after each addition. The finished dough will be stiff.
  4. Place dough near one end of a three-foot-long piece of waxed paper. Bring the long end of the paper over the top of the dough; press to flatten until dough is about one inch thick (or slightly thinner). Refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Roll out dough between waxed paper to just under ½-inch thickness. Use flour-dusted cutters for the traditional fleur-de-lis shapes or cut into 3-inch rounds.
  6. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow bowl; dip one side of each unbaked cookie into the mixture.
  7. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until tops of cookies are just firm. Cool on wire racks.