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Video: Mexican cookies make great holiday desserts

TODAY recipes
updated 12/5/2011 5:19:58 PM ET 2011-12-05T22:19:58

Recipe: Piggy cookies

  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed, chopped or grated piloncillo, or dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Ceylon or true cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, thickly sliced, plus more to grease the baking sheets
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting to roll the dough
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for glaze
  • Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling on top, optional
  • Ground cinnamon for sprinkling on top, optional

In a medium 3-quart saucepan, combine the piloncillo, the water and cinnamon. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the piloncillo dissolves and the liquid thickens to a light syrup. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick. You should have about 1 1/4 cups piloncillo syrup, but it need not be exact. Add the butter and honey and stir until it melts.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the piloncillo mixture. Mix with a rubber spatula until well combined. Add the 2 eggs and stir until thoroughly mixed. The dough will be very sticky, runny and gooey. Place 2 long pieces of plastic wrap, one horizontal and one vertical, in the bottom of a medium mixing bowl, letting the ends of the plastic wrap hang over the edge of the bowl. With a rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto the plastic wrap, bring the edges of the wrap over the dough and secure tightly. Refrigerate 2 hours up to a couple of days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter two baking sheets. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and sprinkle flour on a countertop or cutting board as well as on a rolling pin. Cut the dough in half. Roll out the dough, which will now be firmer, until 1/4 inch thick. Using a piggy cookie cutter (or other shapes, but then you may need to change the name!), press straight down on the dough, moving the cutter gently on the counter top to make it easier to lift the shaped dough from the counter to the baking sheet. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets.

Gently brush the cookie tops with the lightly beaten egg. Repeat to make the remaining cookies. If the dough becomes too sticky, roll it into a ball, wrap it with the plastic wrap, and place it in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes before rolling again. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and golden on top. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Once cooled, sift confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon on top, if desired.

Serving Size

Makes about 25 to 30 medium-sized cookies

Recipe: Scribble cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more to roll the dough
  • Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar, if needed to sweeten the filling

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating each into the dough before adding the next; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour 1/2 cup at a time, along with the salt, until thoroughly mixed.  Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 1/2 hour up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 cookie sheets. Lightly dust your countertop and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. With a 3-inch round cookie cutter or similar size glass, cut out as many cookies as you can.  Place them on the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are just golden. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool to room temperature. In a medium 3-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream and the chopped chocolate. Stir constantly, until the chocolate is completely melted. You may add 1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar to sweeten the filling a bit more, if desired. Turn off the heat and let the chocolate filling cool.

When the cookies and filling have cooled, turn half of the cookies flat side up and spread a heaping tablespoon of the chocolate on each cookie, reserving some of the chocolate to make the scribbles. Top with the remaining half of the cookies, flat side down, sandwiching together lightly. With a pastry bag, a small plastic bag with the corner snipped off, or a fork, drizzle the reserved chocolate on top of the cookies, making your own scribble designs. Once the cookies are set, cover and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I love them cold!

Serving Size

Makes about 16 to 18 cookies

Recipe: Sweet anise ropes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 4 ounces, or 1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces, or 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • Confectioners sugar, optional

Mix the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and anise seeds in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the butter chunks and the vegetable shortening in spoonfuls. Begin to mix it with your hands, until the butter and vegetable shortening are mixed in with the rest of the ingredients. Add the sugar, egg yolks and warm water, working everything together with your hands. In less than a minute, the dough should be soft and malleable enough to be turned into a ball. Don't knead it more than necessary as soon as it all comes together in a homogeneous mass it is good enough.

Butter a large cookie sheet. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. One by one, make cookie balls with the palms of your hands, of about 1 1/2". Then roll it out either with your hands or on a lightly floured surface, into a short rope form, of about 3 to 4" long and less than 1" wide.  Twist the rope a bit and close the two ends making a loop. It is very easy, like a doughnut shape! Place the finished rosquitas on a buttered cookie sheet until you have finished the dough. Place them in the oven anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked and lightly browned on top. Remove them from the oven, let them cool, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Serving Size

Makes about 24

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