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Make One of These Delicious New Mexican Dessert Recipes Today!

Chile-inspired dishes are a staple of New Mexican cooking. Add chile to these classic recipes 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 a 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 for up to six months.

  • 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

*Notes: 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.


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 1 inch or slightly less in thickness, and refrigerate until chilled.

Roll out dough between waxed paper to just under ½-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 wire racks.

Makes 4 dozen cookies

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwest

Traditional Empanadas

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, vegetables or fruit, forming a semicircle. They are baked or fried. Empanadas are a delicious holiday tradition in many New Mexican homes.

Pastry Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter 
  • 1 ½ cups flour 
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cider vinegar 
  • 2 tablespoons very cold water or milk 
  • 1 tablespoon oil 
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water 
  • 4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Filling Ingredients
  • 2 pounds pork 
  • ½ teaspoon allspice 
  • 2 cups chopped raisins 
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg 
  • 2 cups applesauce 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup piñon nuts or other nuts
Pastry Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Using a fork, combine the butter and cream cheese. Sift flour over this mixture. Add baking powder, vinegar, and water or milk and combine with fork. With generously floured hands, work the dough until you have a smooth, resilient ball, about 3 to 4 minutes. Keep working the flour into the other ingredients until the dough suddenly holds together. Flour both the table and your rolling pin. Roll out dough and cut out circles. Oil cookie sheets and place circles on sheets. Add 1 heaping teaspoon of filling, and carefully fold over and crimp with fork, moistening the edge with egg glaze. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Filling Directions

Boil pork. When thoroughly cooked, put in food processor until meat is shredded. Add raisins, applesauce, sugar, nuts and spices. Mix well and proceed with directions in empanada pastry recipe.

Recipe courtesy of Marie Coleman, Casa de Ruiz - Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque's Old 

Pumpkin Empanadas

These delightful pastries from The Artesian Restaurant at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa are perfect with hot apple cider.

Pastry Ingredients
  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 4 ounces butter (cold), cut into small pieces
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 ounces apple juice (cold)
  • Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
Filling Ingredients
  • 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 minutes.

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°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until ⅛-inch thin. Use a 3-inch 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, and brush each lightly with egg wash. Pierce each pastry surface with fork. Chill for 30 minutes, then bake until browned, approximately 20 minutes.

Makes 12 empanadas

Recipe courtesy of Chef Neil Stuart, The Artesian Restaurant at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort &

Easy Pumpkin Empanadas

This recipe uses a prepared pie crust to save time.

  • Pie crust
  • 14 ounces or 1 can of pumpkin puree 
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of nutmeg 
  • Pinch of cinnamon 
  • 2 ounces raisins (optional)

Cut 6-inch circles with a cookie cutter from your favorite pie dough. Place 2 ounces 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°F for 20 minutes. Time and temperature may vary depending on your oven.

Makes 12 cookies

Recipe courtesy of Flying Star Cafe, 

Mexican Hot Chocolate

From 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 mixture 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.

Serves 4

Recipe courtesy of ABQ cuisine expert Gwyneth Doland.

Red Chile Pumpkin Chiffon Pie

This recipe from ABQ cuisine expert Gwyneth Doland adds a delightful spicy twist to a pumpkin pie.

Crust Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water
Filling Ingredients
  • 1 envelope (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup very hot water
  • 3 large eggs
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons (more or less) mild red chile powder
  • 1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Crust Directions

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 the 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 ⅛-inch thick, and transfer it to a pie pan, fluting the edges. Preheat the oven to 425°F. 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°F and bake until the crust is golden, 10 to 15 more minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Filling Directions

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 that 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 ⅓ 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 4 hours or overnight. Serve garnished with additional whipped cream.

Serves 8 people

Recipe courtesy of ABQ cuisine expert Gwyneth Doland.

Spicy Chocolate Chile Cupcakes

These chocolate cupcakes, heated up with some spicy red chile, are extraordinarily special. They are perfect for everything from birthday parties to afternoon tea—a great snack when you're craving chocolate, and an ideal dessert after a chile meal. Frost them with your favorite chocolate butter cream frosting, and if in a hurry, you can use the pre-made frosting.

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, preferably Mexican vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons pure, hot ground red chile
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans 

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 bake 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 cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwest

Mexican Fudge Sauce

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.

  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon pure Mexican vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • teaspoon grated nutmeg

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.

Recipe courtesy of Jane Butel’s Southwest Cooking,