inspired dishes are a staple in New Mexican cooking. These classic
recipes add chile to spice them up and put a twist on tradition.
Biscochitos or Bizcochitos
These spicy, anise-flavored cookies from New Mexico are rich, crisp and
very easy to make. Biscochitos are the holiday cookie staple in New
Mexico. The Biscochito is New Mexico’s Official State Cookie as declared
by the New Mexico Legislature in 1989. Biscochitos were first
introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers who brought the recipe from
Spain. Stored in a tightly sealed container, they can be frozen up to
- 1 ½ cups lard, chilled*
- 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- About 3 tablespoons brandy, apple juice, or milk*
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat lard and 1 cup sugar in a bowl until fluffy.
Add eggs and anise seeds, and beat until very light and fluffy. Sift
together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture along
with the brandy. Mix thoroughly to make a stiff dough. Place dough on a
long piece, about three feet of waxed paper at one end. Bring the long
end over the top and press to about one inch or slightly less in
thickness and refrigerate until chilled.)
Roll out dough between waxed paper to just under 1/2 inch thickness. Cut
with flour dusted cutters into the traditional fleur de lis shape or
into 3-inch rounds. Combine the 3 remaining tablespoons sugar and the
cinnamon in a shallow bowl; dip unbaked cookies into the sugar-cinnamon
mixture on one side. Place cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10
to 12 minutes or until tops of cookies are just firm. Cool cookies on
Butter or margarine can be substituted for the lard, however
the cookies will not be as crisp and moist. Apple juice or milk can be
substituted for the brandy, however they are not quite as good.
Makes 4 dozen cookies
The word empanada comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap
or coat in bread. These delicious little pastries are made by wrapping a
round dough pastry in half over a filling of meat, seafood, vegetable
or fruits to make a semicircle and baked or fried. Empanadas are a
delicious holiday tradition in many New Mexican homes.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons very cold water or milk
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 egg, beaten with 2 tbs. water
- 4-oz. cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup Rum
- 2 tablespoons Dried Apples (Chopped)
- 2 tablespoons Dried Cranberries ( Chopped )
- 2 tablespoons Dried Apricots ( Chopped )
- 2 tablespoons Butter (Unsalted)
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 pinch Allspice
- 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
In a food processor, add the flour, butter, and salt. Pulse until the
mix resembles coarse sand. Pulse, adding apple juice, until the dough
gathers. Flatten into a disc, cover with plastic wrap, and chill for 30
In a small sauce pan melt the butter over low heat. Add the
cinnamon and allspice. Stir for 15 seconds then add the pumpkin. Stir
until combined. Remove from heat. Stir in fruit. Allow mixture to
cool before filling pastries.
In a small sauce pan, warm the rum, remove from the heat, and add
the fruit. Let stand 10 minutes before adding to the pumpkin mixture.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out
the pastry until 1/8” thin. Use a 3” cookie cutter to cut 12 rounds.
Brush surface lightly with egg wash. Place heaping teaspoon of filling
in center of each round, fold over in half and seal. Place on cookie
sheet, brush each lightly with egg wash. Pierce each pastry surface
with fork. Chill for 30 minutes, then bake until browned, approximately
Makes 12 empanadas.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Neil Stuart, The Artesian Restaurant at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, www.ojospa.com
Easy Pumpkin Empanadas
This recipe uses prepared pie-crust for the dough to save time.
- Pie Crust
- 14 oz or 1 can of pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch cinnamon
- 2 oz raisins (optional)
Cut 6 inch circles with a cookie cutter from your favorite pie dough.
Place 2 oz of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold dough
over like a big half moon, then crimp edges with a fork. Beat one egg in
a separate bowl for "egg wash." Dip brush in egg wash and brush over
empanada. Sprinkle top with coarse sugar. Bake at 315 degrees for 20
minutes. Time and temperature may vary depending on your oven.
Makes 12 cookies
Mexican Hot Chocolate
From the ABQ Cuisine Expert, Gwyneth Doland:
Both hot chocolate and atole are traditional accompaniments to
tamales. Mexican hot chocolate is far, far superior to the American
version. First, they make it from real chocolate. Then, they spice it up
with canela, vanilla and sometimes a kick of chile. If you can’t find
ancho chile powder, try regular old red chile powder; just don’t use a
powder that contains anything except ground chile peppers.
- 5 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon (or more) ancho chile powder
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 3-inch piece canela
- 8 ounces unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- Honey and/or brown sugar
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, chile
powder, vanilla bean, and canela. Cook just until it comes to a boil,
then reduce the heat to low.
Add the chocolate and whisk until it dissolves.
Remove the vanilla bean and canela, then pour the chocolate into mugs.
Serve the chocolate with honey and brown sugar on the side, allowing
your guests to sweeten it themselves.
Red Chile Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
This recipe from ABQ Cuisine Expert, Gwyneth Doland, adds a delightful spicy twist to a pumpkin pie.
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Directions to make the crust:
- 1 envelope (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup very hot water
- 3 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 3 tablespoons (more or less) mild red chile powder
- 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Using a pastry
blender, your hands or two butter knives, quickly work the butter into
flour until it resembles coarse meal with some big, pea-sized chunks.
Sprinkle the water 1 tablespoon at a time over the flour and mix with a
fork or your hands. Add just enough water so that the mixture comes
together and can be gathered into a ball. Press the ball into a thick
disc, wrap the disc with plastic and refrigerate 20 minutes. Remove the
chilled dough and allow to rest at room temperature about 5 minutes.
Roll it out into a round 1/8 inch-thick and transfer it to a pie pan,
fluting the edges. Preheat the oven to 425°. Refrigerate crust for
another 20 minutes. Prick the crust all over with a fork, line the pie
plate with a sheet of aluminum foil and weigh it down with dry beans.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, lower the temperature to
350° and bake until the crust is golden, 10 to 15 more minutes. Cool on
a wire rack.
Directions to make the filling:
Pour the hot water into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it,
stirring vigorously until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Separate
eggs, putting the yolks into the top of a double boiler (or, if you
don’t have one, a large stainless steel bowl which you place over a pot
of boiling water). Put the whites into the bowl of a standing electric
mixer. Before heating the yolks over the boiling water, add 1/3 cup
sugar to the yolks and whisk until the mixture is thick, creamy and pale
yellow. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, red chile and dissolved
gelatin. (Don’t worry about clumps in the gelatin–they’ll dissolve when
the mixture is heated.) Start heating the water in the double boiler,
or if you’re using a large bowl instead, set the bowl over a pan of
boiling water, making sure the bowl doesn’t actually touch the water.
Stir constantly until the mixture thickens considerably and thickly
coats the back of a spoon. Remove the yolk mixture from the heat and
whisk in the pumpkin until combined. Set the bowl over another, larger
bowl of ice water. Whisk the mixture about 5 minutes or longer, if you
can. Remove the bowl from the ice water and chill in the
refrigerator. In the standing mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat the egg
whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar slowly and continue beating
until the soft peaks become satiny and stiff. Scrape the egg whites out
into a small bowl. Using a chilled mixing bowl and beaters, whip the
cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the
whipped cream, then into the egg whites. Scoop the mixture into the
prepared crust and chill, covered, for four hours or overnight.
Serve garnished with additional whipped cream.
Serves 8 people
Spicy Chocolate Chile Cupcakes
These doubly chocolate cupcakes, heated up with some spicy red chile,
are extraordinarily special. These are perfect for everything from a
birthday party to an afternoon tea-a great snack when you feel the urge
for chocolate, and an ideal dessert for a chile meal. Frost them with
your favorite chocolate butter cream frosting and if in a hurry, you can
use the pre-prepared.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to
375°F. Place paper liners in 12 muffin cups. Place the semisweet
chocolate chips and all the butter in a medium microwave-safe mixing
bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and microwave on full power for 1
minute. Stir, and repeat until the chocolate and butter are just
melted-do not overheat, as it will ruin the chocolate (If you prefer,
you can melt the butter and chocolate together in a heavy saucepan.
Start over medium heat and then switch to low for the best result, 6 to 8
minutes total). Place the eggs in a small bowl and lightly whisk them.
Then add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and chile, and mix until well
blended. Add the flour to the egg mixture and stir only until just
blended. Add the chocolate-butter mixture, the chocolate chips, and the
pecans, and mix only until just blended. Spoon the batter into the lined
muffin cups, and back until just barely done, 30 to 35 minutes. A
toothpick inserted in the center should come out almost clean, with
perhaps a crumb or two. Place the muffin tin on a wire rack, and let it
cool for 10 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes from the tin and let them
If Mexican chocolate is unavailable, try this fudge sauce. Store
leftover sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator. If the sauce
becomes too thick, thin it slightly by adding a little boiling water.
Heat milk and sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan, stirring
constantly, until mixture simmers. Add chocolate, and stir until melted.
Beat until smooth. If sauce has a slightly curdled appearance, beat
vigorously. It will become creamy smooth.