Almost every state has an official bird, flag, flower, and motto.
But not every state has an official cookie. Only New Mexico and
New Mexico has bizcochito (pronounced bis-co-CHEE-toe). It's a
shortbread cookie flavored with a spice called anise and topped with
Massachusetts' state cookie is a chocolate chip or Toll House
When you bite into a bizcochito, you taste hundreds of years of
history that began when the Spanish reached the New World in 1492.
The Spanish explorers brought wheat flour, which was unknown in the
The word bizcochito comes from the Spanish word bizcocho, which
means "biscuit." Bizcochito means "little biscuit."
The earliest versions were not sweet. They were hard biscuits
that softened when dunked in coffee or tea. Properly stored, they
lasted more than a year.
When explorers and settlers in New Mexico began to trade with the
Comanche Indians, they would offer the biscuits as barter.
The Catholic Church also established missions in the region,
beginning in the 1500s. Priests were probably some of the first
people to introduce the anise seeds that give the cookie its
Bizcochitos were made to celebrate the defeat of the French by
the Mexican Army at Puebla in 1862, says Jane Butel, author of
numerous cookbooks on Southwestern cooking and owner of the Jane
Butel Cooking School in Albuquerque, N.M. Today, that event is
celebrated as Cinco de Mayo.
"Mexican women made these cookies to honor their soldiers," she
says. "They were made in the shape of a fleur-de-lis, the symbol of
France, from cookie cutters made out of tin cans. The women
supposedly said 'stamp them out,' referring to the French, as they
cut out each one."
By the 1850s, New Mexico was no longer part of Mexico. It
belonged to the United States. But strong cultural ties remained.
The bizcochito traveled north from Mexico. "There was a lot of back
and forth between the two areas," says Ms. Butel. "The cookie became
popular because it was celebratory, and it was practical. It was
easy to make, inexpensive, and used ingredients found at home."
Lard made from animal fat is not often used in baking anymore.
But it is still commonly listed as an ingredient in bizcochito
recipes. Many bakers will tell you that without lard, the cookies
are not as delicious or flaky. "We try to insist on lard," says
Nicole Ammerman, an instructor at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
"Without it, you don't have a true bizcochito."
Bizcochitos are a great alternative to traditional rolled sugar
cookies, according to Ms. Ammerman. Unlike sugar cookies, bizcochito
dough does not need to be refrigerated before it can be cut into
Bizcochito recipes are often handed down in families. This has
produced almost as many recipes as there are bakers. Some cooks use
egg yolks instead of whole eggs. Some use apple juice, grape juice,
or other liquids instead of water. Whatever the recipe, no holiday
celebration in New Mexico is complete without bizcochitos.
Although bizcochitos are largely unknown outside the Southwest,
the chocolate chip cookie is one of the most popular cookies all
across the US.
Almost half of all cookies baked at home are chocolate chip.
"They're comfort food," says Barb Randall, a food writer and cooking
instructor in Lake Oswego, Ore. "They're a nice, quick, and easy
cookie to make - and, of course, most people love chocolate."
More than 100 million bags of chocolate chips are sold each year.
That's enough to make more than 5 billion cookies. Because chocolate
chip cookies are so popular, it may be hard to believe they've been
around only since the 1930s.
It may be even harder to believe that chocolate chip cookies were
invented by accident.
As the story goes, Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband,
Kenneth, bought a restaurant in Whitman, Mass. …