Raisin and Nut Cookies
MAKES 4 1/2 DOZEN COOKIES
These cookies, traditionally made for the Day of the Dead, November 1, are so popular that they're eaten year-round.
FOR THE COOKIES:
4 cups type "00" flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 7-gram package active dry yeast
3/4 cup lard
1/2 tsp. anise extract
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup raisins
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shelled walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
FOR THE ICING:
2 egg whites
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. rainbow sprinkles
1. For the cookies: Preheat oven to 475°. Combine flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add lard and anise extract and beat with paddle attachment on medium speed until mixture is flecked with pea-size pieces of lard, about 1 minute. Add baking powder and I cup water and beat until mixture is crumbly, about 30 seconds. Add raisins, vanilla extract, and I cup water and mix well. Add walnuts and almonds and mix until dough forms a ball.
2. Divide dough into thirds. Roll each piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface into 6" x 9" rectangles. Cut each piece of dough in half lengthwise, then crosswise at 1" intervals. Using your fingers, press corners to round off edges. Put cookies on ungreased baking sheets about 1/2" apart. Transfer cookies to oven, reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake until pale golden, 20–25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400° and continue to bake until cookies are golden brown, 2–3 minutes more. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to cooling racks. Cover with clean dish towels and set aside until completely cool, 30–45 minutes.
3. For the icing: Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form. 1 1/2-2 minutes. Add sugar and lemon juice and beat on high speed until icing is glossy, 1 minute. Spread about 1 tsp. icing on top of each cookie and sprinkle with some of the sprinkles while icing is still wet. Set aside until icing is hard.