Hojarascas (pronounced “oha-rascas” – the H is silent) are traditional Mexican cookies that are beloved for their delicate texture, warm spices, and irresistible sweetness. These crumbly treats have a rich history and are often enjoyed during festive occasions or as a comforting snack with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Hojarascas, when done right, are light, flakey and absolutely, deliciously addictive cinnamon sugar coated shortbread cookies.
Hojarascas have their roots in Spanish cuisine, but they have become a cherished part of Mexican culinary heritage. These cookies are particularly popular in the states of Sonora and Sinaloa in Mexico. The name “Hojarascas” is derived from the Spanish word “hojaldre,” which means puff pastry. While traditional puff pastry is not used in Hojarascas, the name reflects the cookie’s crumbly and layered texture reminiscent of fallen leaves.
As a child, I recall tasting hojarascas that were purchased from the local Mexican bakery. I found them to be heavy and dry and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
Not until many years later, a friend and coworker brought a tin of hojarascas (that her grandmother had made) into our office. The cookies were deliciously light, flakey and addicting. So, I thought I would look for a recipe and give them a try.
After hours of hard work, sadly my cookies were terrible! They were heavy, dry and certainly, nothing like the tasty treats my friend’s grandmother had made.
One restless night, as I was flipping through the TV channels, I came across a Mexican cooking show. Note this was back in the early 80’s prior to the well-produced food TV shows we’ve become accustomed to seeing. A young man was with his grandmother demonstrating how she made Hojarascas.
Fortunately, I am fluent in Spanish and was able to follow the broadcast. Her recipe was very similar to the one I had BUT the big difference was the method she used to make the dough. The very next day I made a batch of these cookies using my same recipe with the technique I had learned. SUCCESS!
These simple yet flavorful cookies bring joy and a sense of tradition to every bite. Whether enjoyed with a warm beverage, served as part of a dessert platter, or given as a heartfelt gift, Hojarascas showcase the beauty of Mexican baking and the joy of savoring homemade treats. So, gather your ingredients, embrace the aromatic spices, and let the deliciousness of Hojarascas transport you to the enchanting world of Mexican cuisine. Enjoy!
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 1 lb. pork lard or shortening
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon or more to taste
- In a blender, add cinnamon sticks and sugar.
- Blend well until cinnamon sticks have been broken down.
- Strain the mixture into a small bowl, removing any larger pieces of cinnamon sticks.
- In a large bowl, add eggs, baking powder and lard. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until well combined. Add cinnamon/sugar mixture and continue beating until evenly mixed. Gradually, stir in flour one cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Once the mixture becomes difficult to stir in the flour, pour out the contents of the bowl onto a floured surface and continue to work in the remaining flour by hand until well incorporated. Knead the dough until smooth and pliable. You can use a standing mixer fitted with a paddle to make the job easier. This process should take around 15-20 minutes. When the dough does not break when spread on the surface, it is ready.
- Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, wrapping each one in a piece of plastic wrap until ready to use. Let rest in fridge for 15 minutes.
- On a heavily floured surface, roll the dough out to roughly 1/4" to 1/2" thick, as you would for basic sugar cookies, and cut out using your favorite shapes (ours is a 1.5in fluted circle). Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 minutes (cooking time will need to be adjusted based on size and thickness).
- Cookies are ready when the bottoms are slightly golden and they are semi-firm to the touch.
- Combine 2 C. sugar with 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon. As cookies come out of the oven, gently toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Set aside to cool. These cookies keep well when stored in an airtight container. Enjoy!