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Hojarascas (Mexican Shortbread Cookies)

Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without these traditional hojarascas in our house! Called by other names, such as biscochitos, pan de polvo and polvorones, they are delicious!
Course Cookies, Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Resting time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 4 minutes
Servings 24 Cookies



  • 1 to 1 1 /2 cups of vegetable shortening  manteca (rendered pork lard) or butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar plus more for dusting
  • teaspoons anise seeds or 1 teaspoon ground
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Zest and juice from 1 large orange at least 1/4 cup of juice
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup finely ground pecans
  • Nonstick spray or parchment paper

You Will Also Need

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ground Mexican canela(cinnamon) or already ground cinnamon



    To Start: Preheat oven to 350ºF.

    • Combine 1 1/4 cups of shortening and ½ cup of sugar in bowl. Using an electric hand mixer, cream together until fluffy. Beat in the anise and then the egg yolks until thoroughly blended. Reduce mixer speed to low and with the mixer running, add the orange juice, 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 shortening. Fold in the pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
    • 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 small cookies.


    My family's recipe for hojarascas is a little more simple than this one.Typically prepared without the orange zest and juice. The juice would be replaced with a tea prepared with Mexican cinnamon(canela) and anise seeds. Simply combine 2 inch stick of canela(cinnamon) and 1/2 teaspoon of anise seeds with 1 cup of water in a sauce pan. Bring up to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool at room temperature. Strain before adding required amount to recipe. 
    The nuts are optional, but were often added to give the cookie a more traditional feel. Mexican cinnamon sticks are softer than the sticks you typically find in most markets. The Mexican cinnamon can easily be ground with a micro plane or in a coffee grinder once broken into pieces.