Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Holiday Hojarascas (Traditional Mexican Shortbread Cookies)

Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 2 dozen

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 Christmastime: empanadas and hojarascas. This very traditional Mexican cookie is lightly sweetened with hints of anise and orange zest. They literally melt in your mouth!

After I got married and moved away, my mom would send me these cookies every Christmas. Now that she is no longer with me, I took it upon myself to keep this tradition going and bake these very special cookies for my brothers and sisters to receive in the mail at Christmastime.

The hardest part is not eating them before I have to mail them!! Happy Holidays!



  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Combine shortening and ½ cup of sugar in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, cream together until well blended. 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. Fold in the pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Spray or line cookie sheets. Now, you can either roll out the dough and use your favorite cutouts (a heart is traditional) or roll little 1 inch balls and place them on the cookie sheets. Take the bottom of a glass and press cookies flat. Dip the bottom of a glass in flour if it starts to stick.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 12 to 14 minutes. While cookies are cooling, mix ¼ cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. Carefully dip each cookie into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Yields up to 2 dozen small cookies.

Chef Notes

No cookie cutters? Don't worry. On any given day, this was how my mom would prepare hojarascas: roll into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet. Use a flat-bottom glass to press down and flatten.

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