PATI'S MEXICAN TABLE

January 1, 2010 12:10 PM
My Three Little Piggies

Piggies can be found in many places under different names: marranitos, puerquitos, cerditos, cochinitos. All these words are used to describe a Piggie in endearing ways. In some places, they are given different animal shapes, but still called in one way or another "Piggie". That may be because that was their original shape.

They really should be called Flying Piggies and have wings attached given how fast they fly away from my kitchen each time I make them.  Sometimes it is even hard to bake them, since my boys find the dough irresistible: its gooey, sticky, and deliciously sweet.
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Now, don't think I didn't see that little Piggie...

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After they sneak away and find ways to eat some dough, they have a hard time waiting for it to harden in the refrigerator, so it can be easy to roll it out and give it fun shapes

More often than not, the Piggies end up looking like fierce lions or magical dragons.

One of the reasons I love these cookies, is because my middle Piggie, my pickiest eater, loves them. He enjoys every part of the process to make them, except waiting for the dough to be ready.

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He takes brushing them with lightly beaten egg incredibly seriously.

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No easy task, you see?

And oops! There are some dinosaur shaped Piggies there too...

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He loves adding confectioners' sugar. Especially after I have said "I think that's enough baby"

Most of all, he loves eating them. Which makes me happy because I know all the good stuff that's in them.
 
With firm and clean edges, Piggies are deceiving.  You can't tell that their texture is so soft and almost bread-like until you take a bite. They also have a wholesome and small Pueblo flavor.  I think that's because the main ingredient, Piloncillo is simply sugar cane juice, typically shaped into cones.  It's easy to find, but you can also substitute it with brown sugar and get the same charming feeling.  Combine all the above characteristics and you get an incredibly comforting cookie.

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There goes my oldest Piggie, jumping in to get one, even before they have cooled down...

p.s. Piggies are perfect to accompany a hot cup of coffee or tea... Also, keep them covered, so they will remain soft and fluffy.  


I wrote a shorter version of this Post for PaulaDeen.com

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PIGGIES
Makes 30 medium sized cookies (with aprox 4" cookie cutter)

INGREDIENTS
12 oz piloncillo, chopped or grated, or substitute for 1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 true or Ceylon cinnamon stick, or 2" to 3" length
2 sticks or 1 cup unsalted butterat room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour, may need a bit more
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggsat room temperature, lightly beaten
Butterto grease cookie/baking sheet
2 to 3 tablespoons all purpose flour, a bit more or less, to roll out the dough
1 egg, lightly beaten to be used as glaze
Confectioner's sugarto sprinkle on top, optional

TO PREPARE
In a saucepan, combine the grated piloncillo or dark brown sugar with the water and cinnamon. Heat over medium heat, once it simmers, adjust and lower heat to keep it at a low-medium simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it thickens to a light syrup consistency. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. You should have now about 1 1/4 cups piloncillo liquid. Add the butter and the honey into the hot liquid, and stir until it dissolves.

In a mixing bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a whole in the center and pour the piloncillo mixture. With a spatula mix it all together in a circular motion until it is well incorporated. Lightly beat 2 eggs and incorporate them into the dough. The dough will be sticky and gooey.

Place enough plastic wrap in the bottom of a mixing bowl to have wings on the sides. With a spatula, push the dough onto the plastic wrap, wrap the dough, and refrigerate anywhere from 3 hours to overnight.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a couple cookie/baking sheets with butter. If using one sheet you may need to do a couple batches.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. On a counter top, sprinkle a couple tablespoons of flour. Rub a bit of flour on the rolling pin as well. Roll dough until you have about 1/4" thickness. Using piggie cookie cutters (or other shapes, but then you may need to change the name!), press down on dough, moving a bit on the counter top, to make it easier to lift the shaped dough.

Place Piggies on the baking sheet as you shape them along. Gently brush cookie tops with the lightly beat egg. Roll the extra already used dough, wrap with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before using again, or it will be too soft and sticky. Repeat to make remaining cookies.

Bake cookies in the middle rack of the oven anywhere from 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. You may sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top. Keep them covered so they remain soft.

Kids love to eat them with a tall glass of milk, I like them with a hot cup of coffee.