Fany Gerson's My Sweet Mexico has an entire chapter devoted to dulces de convento or sweets crafted by nuns. Despite their strict lifestyle, the ladies of the convent have been known to relax in the kitchen, creating all sorts of sweet, decadent treats.
Adapted from Delicias de Antaño, a volume on the history and recipes of Mexican convents, these Anise Cookies are flavored with anise (both seed and liqueur), lime zest, and canela, Mexican cinnamon. The shortening-based dough makes for a crumbly cookie and when dipped in the anise syrup and finished with a dusting of cinnamon sugar, they are almost candy-like. The anise-lime-cinnamon combo brings is reminiscent of a digestif—sweet and herbal.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of My Sweet Mexico to give away this week.
Reprinted with permission from My Sweet Mexico: Recipes for Authentic Pastries, Breads, Candies, Beverages, and Frozen Treats. Copyright © 2010 by Fany Gerson, Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.
- For the cookies:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) vegetable shortening
- 1 teaspoon anise seed
- 1 tablespoon anise liqueur
- Zest of 1 lime
- For the syrup:
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon anise liqueur
- Sifted confectioner’s sugar mixed with a bit of freshly ground canela or cinnamon, for dusting
Sift the flour into a bowl. Melt the shortening in a small pan and add the aniseed. Heat for a couple of minutes over low-medium heat, making sure they don’t burn, and then pour onto the flour. Mix with a spoon carefully but rapidly so no lumps are formed. Add the liqueur and lime zest.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a smooth and uniform dough is formed, 3 to 5 minutes. With your hands, roll out pieces about 5 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick, starting in the center and rolling outward so that the pieces are evenly thick. Connect one end of each piece to the other, making a ring, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cookies until slightly firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a small pot over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the liqueur. Dip the tops of the cookies into the syrup and let dry on a rack. Pour any remaining syrup over the cookies and let cool completely.
Dust with the confectioner’s sugar mixture and enjoy (they are best eaten the same day).