A Generational Cookie
In our culture, our abuelas are the matriarchs of the family. They are nurturing, wise leaders and they hold the secrets for how to make just about anything in the kitchen. Just like an injury can go away with a simple comforting kiss from them, our colds also disappear with the first spoonful of their carefully prepared caldo de pollo. Abuelas rule. What they say goes and you don't mess with them, lest you want a chancla mark on your backside.
Which is why, when Amber Alvillar decided that she wanted to make and sell biscochos, using her abuelita's recipe, getting her blessing was only appropriate. The family recipe has been handed down for five generations. It started with Amber's great-great-grandmother Guadalupe Briones, who came to the U.S. from Mexico with her baby, Juana Orduñez. Guadalupe was in her twenties when the two came here alone in search of a new life and settled in Las Cruces. Juana was the mother of Margarita Pacheco and she was the mother of Christina Calderon, who is Amber's mother.
"I remember all the women in my family getting together before Christmas and weddings in my grandmother's kitchen to make biscochos. It's one of my earliest memories and one I will always cherish," says Amber. The group would gather to make tamales first and then a week later, they would congregate to make plenty of biscochos just in time for the holidays.
After receiving a bachelor's degree in Business from NMSU, Amber decided that she needed to do something that she loved with her degree. She is by nature a hands-on type of person so she decided to make a living doing something she has enjoyed since she was a child, making biscochos using the very recipe she grew up with.
Amber started her business, Mi Abuelita's Biscochos, five years ago and currently sells her cookies at Toucan's, Solamente de Mesilla, and at the Farmer's Market on Wednesday and Saturdays. She bakes about nine dozens per day, kneading about 20 pounds of masa, all by hand, and using only the best quality ingredients for her cookies. Amber explains that she uses a cookie press to carefully shape each biscocho and proudly states, “My hands touch every single cookie.”
"I understand that biscochos are not a necessity. I really appreciate it when someone spends their hard earned money on my biscochos so I want to make sure they get the very best for their money," claims Amber.
Currently in the works are a coffee flavored and a chocolate dipped biscocho that Amber has been perfecting. Aside from biscochos she is also planning on incorporating a brownie, a chocolate chip cookie, a chocolate-pecan cookie and a cheesecake with a biscocho crust to her repertoire. The cheesecake promises to be a delightful concoction incorporating anise, orange zest and brandy. Additionally, Amber makes bulk batches for weddings and other special occasions.
Today, Amber concentrates her effort on making the best biscochos she knows how. What the future holds, is yet unknown. It could include an expanded product line, a storefront or even a restaurant. What we do know for sure is that with a recipe that has withstood the test of time for over 100 years, she can’t possibly go wrong.