Matthew recently was given an assignment to research the history of a Hispanic food. Ever my one with the sweet tooth, he discovered marranitos. Also called cochinos or puerquitos, these "little pigs" are a cut-out molasses cookie from Mexico. They are traditionally on a fiesta's dessert menu, especially a Día de los Muertos picnic, at a Christmas posada, or for a special occasions like a baptism.
We found several marranitos recipes online. Although sometimes they are called
"gingerbread pigs," these cookies do not contain any ginger. They get
their distinct flavor from the molasses in the brown sugar, though most modern
recipes add a touch of cinnamon. Mexican bakers traditionally use piloncillo
- a hard raw sugar that is dried into a cone shape and then grated into
a recipe - but we used regular brown sugar.
Based on the pictures we found, "little" pig is almost a misnomer. True, they're not as big as a real pig, but these the traditional size of these cookies seems quite large - about 6 inches. The piggy cookie cutter in the general mix of cutters we had was nowhere near big enough to make marranitos like the ones we saw in our research. We found these online and ordered two (one for Matthew and one for me to make cutting go a little faster). We opted for the add-on handle so that our piggies didn't get misshapen.
This recipe makes a very, very stiff dough. I have to say, I am impressed at how solid these are. I've had some metal cookie cutters in the past, but as soon as you wiggle them into the dough, they start to squish. These are very sturdy and barely flexible -- they're not going to bend. Plus, having the handle keeps your hand off of the cutter itself, so the pressure is all across the handle, not on the shape. One of the things that frustrates me about roll-out cookies is the cutter. Not only did this one not bend, but I also didn't have to pry dough out of the corners. I may just go back and check out their selection of Christmas cookie cutters.
Of course, we've adjusted other ingredients of the recipe to be safe for us. Traditionally, these cookies are made with milk and wheat flour. Ours are gluten and dairy free so we can share around the house!
1 3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c. shortening
1 c. coconut milk beverage1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
6 c. gluten free all-purpose flour mix (King Arthur)
2 Tbsp. xanthan gum
1 egg, beaten (optional)
Cream together the sugar and the shortening until fluffy.
Add the egg, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, sift the baking soda, flour, and xanthan gum together.
Add the flour mix to the sugar mixture slowly, until a soft dough forms.
Take about a third of the dough, and form it into a puck shape. Place it on top of a piece of parchment paper.
Top with another sheet of parchment, and then roll the dough out. The parchment really makes a difference when trying to roll out gluten-free dough. Only roll the dough to about 1/4" thick - these cookies should be slightly thick, since they are traditionally soft and a little cake-y. (Plus, a little thicker helps with more fragile gluten-free doughs.)
Cut out your piggies.
Put scraps to the side. When you are done rolling each 1/3 of the dough, THEN combine the scraps so you have a reasonable amount of dough to re-roll.
You should be able to get about 15 6" cookies from this recipe.
Transfer the cookies to a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with a beaten egg, if desired.
Bake at 400*F for 11-14 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. (Usually it helps to wait for the timer and open the oven, but the oven vulture was standing guard over this litter of pigs.)
Allow to set on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling. Serve at room temperature.
Cover any leftovers with foil or a cloth. You want to secure the cover, but don't make it air-tight because of all the brown sugar.
Jude decided that pigs should be covered in mud. Or, in this case, chocolate syrup.
Here is a whole herd of marranitos. These were the ones we sent into school and were made with wheat flour. The only difference in the recipe was we switched out the wheat flour for the GF mix, and then skipped the xanthan gum. We brushed these with the beaten egg. (We chose not to top the gluten-free ones with egg so we could tell the platters apart.)
Not too sweet, these make a great option for dunking into a sweet cup of coffee or even hot chocolate!
¡Tienes una feliz y deliciosa fiesta!
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