April 22, 2014

Feast Day Cookies ~ #CreativeCookieExchange

Cinco de Mayo is only a couple of weeks away so I am already looking for something special to make - well besides my li hing mui frozen margaritas. It was perfect timing that the theme for this months #CreativeCookieExchange is Cookies for Cinco de Mayo.
I really didn't have to go far in my search for the cookie I wanted to make. Recently I was sent a new cookbook to review, The New Southwest (Hippocrene Books), by food blogger Meagan Micozzi of Scarletta Bakes. It is full of recipes that are "classic flavors with a new twist".  I have been a fan of Scarletta Bakes for quite some time now, so I was thrilled when she published a cookbook. How could you not love a blog that is named after it's creators tendency to blush?

This cookbook has 80 new recipes in it, ranging from Chicken Tinga Potpie, to Caramel-Soaked Mexican Chocolate Pancakes, to these wonderful Feast Day Cookies. In all honesty I don't really have that much experience in making Mexican food, but the recipes in this book seem so user-friendly that I can't wait to dig right in. And for those who love it when there are lots of photos accompanying the recipes, well I am happy to say that there is a photo for almost every recipe - and they are gorgeous. I am pretty sure I am going to ace my Cinco de Mayo celebration this year courtesy of The New Southwest.

There are actually quite a few yummy-sounding cookies in this book, but I was drawn to the Feast Day Cookies because the first ingredient is anise seed.  I am a big sucker for anything licorice.  Yes, I am that one person who grabs the black jellybeans first and takes black Twizzlers to the movies. Growing up I remember buying these candies in Australia called slate pencils that had a chalky consistency and a very strong licorice flavor, and you basically sucked one end so it dissolved into a point that looked just like a pencil - without getting frustrated and biting the end off.  Anyway, as soon as I saw them I knew exactly what I wanted for my cookie this month, especially since they are a traditional celebration cookie.

The only slight change I made to these cookies was to refrigerate them for 30 minutes before I rolled them out since the dough was quite soft, and of course it is always warm here so my cookies always benefit from their time in a cold place. The smell as they were baking was heavenly, and I could not resist biting into one as soon as they came out of the oven, even though it meant burning my mouth. They are slightly crisp, and crumble beautifully when you bite into them, and have an amazing rich flavor from the anise seed and the pine nuts.

Please scroll down below the recipe to find out more about the Creative Cookie Exchange.

Feast Day Cookies
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

  • 1 teaspoon anise seed
  • ½ cup pinyon nuts (pine nuts may be substituted)
  • ¾ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1¼ cups granulated white sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground canela (cinnamon may be substituted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together ½ cup sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
  4. Spread the anise seeds in an even layer in a small, dry fry pan and toast over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes, shaking them several times while toasting; set aside to cool.
  5. Spread the pine nuts in an even layer in a large, dry fry pan and toast over medium heat for approximately 2 to 4 minutes, shaking them several times while toasting - watch them carefully as they can burn quickly.  Remove from heat when they have turned a light golden brown and are fragrant. Once cool to touch, coarsely chop and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl beat together the shortening and ¾ cup sugar until light and fluffy.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time, then vanilla, beating until blended.
  8. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cooled anise seeds together in a bowl.
  9. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, and mix just until you have a dry, crumbly but uniform dough.
  10. Fold in the chopped nuts.
  11. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  12. Remove from the refrigerator and roll the dough out on a well-floured board using a well-floured rolling pin to a thickness of approximately ¼ inch.
  13. Cut out the cookies using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter and place on the prepared baking sheets (these cookies will not spread so you can fit up to 16 on a standard half-sheet pan).
  14. Before baking top each cookie with a generous dusting of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  15. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly browned at the edges and across the bottom.
  16. Remove finished cookies from baking sheet to a rack to cool, or enjoy warm from the oven.
  17. Recipe makes approximately 32 cookies.

Recipe from The New Southwest: Classic Flavors with a Modern Twist by Meagan Micozzi

Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of The New Southwest, but this is my honest opinion of the book and I was not compensated monetarily for my review.

The theme this month is Cinco de Mayo - and what better way to celebrate than baking cookies! Creative Cookie Exchange has decided to stop using the linky. What this means is that the only way to join in the fun is to become a host. Just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes - be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts. You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made ~


  1. I enjoy anise in small amounts so these cookies would be good for me. I'll pass on the black jelly beans or twizzlers though.

  2. My grandmother was a huge fan of licorice and we always saved the black jellybeans for her. She would have loved your cookies, Felice. Great flavors and they turned out so pretty.

  3. This sounds like a cookbook I'd love having in my kitchen. The cookies are perfect for celebrating any day!

  4. Love your unusual ingredients but I also appreciate the substitutes if we can't find them. What a great looking cookies for Cinco de Mayo!!

  5. These look and sound so delicious! I was also that person who sought out the black licorice jelly beans and downed good and plentys at the movies. :) Such a wonderful combination with the cinnamon and pine nuts! YUM!

  6. Your feast cookies do look like they are perfect for any celebration table, Felice.

    The anise / licorice flavor is intriguing....In addition to The New Southwest's Chocolate Mexican Caramel Pancakes!

  7. Yum, I love the sound of your cookies.

  8. I'm one who loves licorice too! these look so good and the photo of the crumbs is perfect. =)

  9. What an unusual combination of spices! I am sure your kitchen smelled amazing after baking them!

  10. ok ok course when all I said was testing it let me comment. So let me instead comment properly and say I think you did a spectacular job with these and I should have come by sooner seeing as I stumbled and pinned this a long time ago!


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