Does this little piggy really belong here? In Mexico the soft cake-like version of the puerquito or piggy is usually eaten for breakfast. But the thinner, crunchy little piggy can definitely not be taken for anything else but a cookie and the fat little puerquitos looked so adorable I decided they would do. These cookies are sold in most panaderias in Mexico and are also known as cochinitas or marranitas. In Mexico the pig is a symbol for luck so biting into one of these cookies has to be good for you. The taste, colour and texture of the puerquito is similar to gingerbread but no ginger is used in this recipe. Puerquitos get their rich spicy taste from muscovado sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and star anise. Try them and you might even be tempted to trade your traditional gingerbread for this recipe coming Christmas.
Puerquito cookie from Mexico
for about 30 piggies
250 grams dark muscovado sugar
350 milliliters water
3 cinnamon sticks
2 pieces of star anise
4 allspice berries
450 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
350 grams butter
In a saucepan stir the muscovado sugar with the water, the cinnamon sticks, the cloves, the star anise and the allspice and bring to the boil. Leave to bubble on low heat for about 20 min. or until the mixture has reduced to a thin syrup. Remove the spices and leave to cool.
Cut the butter into small pieces. In a large bowl mix the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Using your fingertips rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
Stir in 3 eggs, add the syrup and mix well. The dough will be very soft and sticky. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 °F. Beat the last egg with a fork. Dust a sheet of baking paper with flour and take 1/4 of the mixture out of the refrigerator. Dust the top of the dough with some more flour. Roll out the dough to 0,5 cm / 0,2 inch between baking paper for soft thick cookies and to half the thickness for thinner crunchy ones. Cut out cookies with a pig shaped cookie cutter. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put the dough in the refrigerator to firm up again when it gets to sticky to work with. Carefully transfer the piggies to a cookie sheet covered with baking paper and brush with egg wash. Bake them in the middle of the oven. The thin cookies will be done in about 15 min. The thicker ones will need about 5 min. more. Take the cookies out of the oven and leave to cool on the cookie sheet.
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