Do you have a family tradition that was passed down to you??? Making cookies during the holidays is probably one of those traditions that we are all familiar with. There were only two desserts that my Mom baked during the holidays, empanadas and hojarascas.
Hojarascas is the name I knew them by in Monterrey, Mexico. This very traditional Mexican cookie is lightly sweetened and typically flavored with anise. They come with or without nuts, then are rolled in sugar and fresh grated canela (Mexican cinnamon). They literally melt in your mouth!
After I got married and moved away from home, my Mom would send me these cookies every Christmas. Now that that she is no longer with us, I took it upon myself to keep this tradition going and bake these very special cookies every holiday season. The cookies are similar to Polvorones, Pan de Polvo and Biscochitos. This recipe includes baking powder and eggs, which yields a more firm dough, which makes it easier to use cookie cutters. I would not recommend the eggless recipe for cut-out cookies. The hardest part is not eating them before I share them with family an friends! Happy Holidays!
The hojarascas are extremely fragile when warm. So please wait until they have cooled to dip them in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
If you can find real Mexican canela(cinnamon), I would suggest using that.
And then for the holidays…. Cut out are festive!
Tips~ The gingerbread man was not the best for this recipe. The heads and legs brake off easily, lol! Stick with the stars, hearts or trees.
Hojarascas (Mexican Shortbread Cookies)
- 1/2 tsp anise seeds
- 3 inch Mexican cinnamon stick
- 1 c water
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening, pork lard or butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar plus more for dusting
- 2 large egg yolks
- Zest of 1 large orange optional
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely ground pecans optional
- parchment paper
You Will Also Need
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fresh ground Mexican canela(cinnamon) or already ground cinnamon
- In a small pot, combine the anise seeds and cinnamon stick with 1 cup of water. Bring to a quick boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. let cool.
- Combine 1 1/4 cups of pork lard, shortening or butter and ½ cup of sugar in bowl. Using an electric hand mixer(or stand mixer), cream together until fluffy. Beat in the yolks until thoroughly blended. Strain the reserved tea. Set aside.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and with the mixer running, mix in 1/3 cup of the cinnamon/anise tea, orange zest, baking powder and finally the flour, mixing just long enough to work in the flour. If the dough feels too crumbly, mix in a little more of reserved lard or shortening. If it feels too sticky, mix in 1-2 more tbsps of flour. If using pecans, fold them in now. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20-25 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line cookie sheets with parchement paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough and use your favorite cutouts like hearts, stars or trees. You can also roll 1 inch balls and place them on the cookie sheets. Take the bottom of a glass and press cookies flat. Dip the bottom of glass in flour if it starts to stick.
- Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 12 to 14 minutes. While cookies are cooling, mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 tsp of canela (cinnamon). Carefully dip each cookie into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Cool completely and store in airtight container. Yields up to 2 dozen cookies.
[…] that I grew up with. Most times Mom would cut them out into heart shapes or simply round. https://pinaenlacocina.com/hojarascas-traditional-mexican-shortbread-cookies/ Conchas-Pan de Huevo […]
The recipe calls for 1 cup finely ground pecans. Do you want to end up with 1 cup ground pecans or do you start with 1 cup whole/pieces of pecans? Should the pecans resemble dust or very small pieces? I would like to make some for my sons wedding.
You will need the pecans to be finely ground. And it will be 1 cup ground, not whole. If the pieces are too big, you cannot use cookie cutters. So, yes, finely ground. Great question!
How would we prepare the tea if we wished to use that instead of the orange juice and zest?
Alisaa, I typically will prepare 1 cup of tea. So combine 1 cup water with a 4-6 inch piece of cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon of anise seeds. I like to make sure it’s concentrated. I bring it up to a boil and them just let it cool at room temperature before straining it. I prepare a double batch of cookies, so I always like to have extra tea on hand. I believe I added about 1/3 of the prepared tea to the recipe instead of the orange juice.
Is it of if I use the Anis Estrella instead on the seeds?
Paulina, you can use the star anise as well.
You mention about using mexican canela. You are talking about cinimon sticks right. And basically grate the stick or what exactly do you mean by that step?
Hi Lindsay, sorry about the confusion on the recipe. When I refer to canela, yes I do mean fresh grated canela. But it has to be Mexican cinnamon sticks because they are not as hard as the ones you find typically in stores. You could also just use ground cinnamon. I will make sure I add a note to the recipe about the Mexican cinnamon.
One more question. in the you will also need ingredients you state
“1/2 cup of granulated sugar mixed with 1 full teaspoon of fresh ground Mexican canela(cinnamon) or already ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ground Mexican canela(cinnamon) or already ground cinnamon”
does that mean I use two teaspoons of canela in the sugar mixture?
It was amistake on my part. It should be 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp cinnamom. I made the corrections. Thank you.
thank you for replying Im in the process of making them and im excited to see how they turn out!!!! I have also tried the empanadas receipe that you have and they are a sensation. my family cant get enough of them. !!!!
Oh Good! Thank you for letting me know.
Question… if you are using the cinnamon water instead of the zest do you still add the 1 1/2 Tps of anisé seeds to the recipe?
If you are going to prepare the cinnamon and anise tea, I would not add extra anise seeds, not unless you want more anise flavor.If you are just making the tea cinnamon flavor, then the anise seeds can be added separately to the dough as instructed.Sorry for the confusion.
Nut allergies in my house, can you make without the pecans?
Absolutely, you can prepare the recipe without nuts. it will yield less cookies.
We made them and they made a lot more then two dozen cookies.
Depending on the cookie cutter size and thickness of cookies, the recipe will yield a different amount.
Which do you recommend better pork lard, vegetable shortening or butter?
My personal preference is the vegetable shortening.