Break apart the piloncillo into smaller pieces and place in a small casserole. Add the water, cinnamon, cloves, and anise.
Place on medium heat until the piloncillo completely dissolves and has been reduced to syrup. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, strain and save for later.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and vegetable shortening and mix well.
Add the two (2) eggs and mix thoroughly.
Add the syrup to the dough and mix evenly.
Now, knead the dough a bit by hand (you will probably have to add some extra flour).
Store in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
These are the cookie-cutters that we will be using for the puerquitos; they are easy to find in Mexico, but if they’re not available in your country you can draw the pattern on a piece of cardboard and use that as a guide to cutting them instead.
Once the dough has been refrigerated, it is time to cut the little piggies. There are two options for doing this:
8A. First Option: On a cookie sheet that has been greased with butter (or in my case covered with wax paper), spread out and flatten the dough with the rolling pin. Now cut the little piggies with the cookie cutter and remove the excess dough from the cookie sheet, leaving only the cookies.
8B. Second Option: Spread out and flatten the dough on another surface (I cut the plastic bag in half and use that); cut the puerquitos out with the cookie cutter and carefully transfer them onto the cookie sheet. Transferring the cookies isn’t that hard (it’s kind of like making tortillas by hand) but you must remember to be gentle since the dough is vey soft.
Continue like this until you’ve used up all of the dough. (I like the second option better).
When you have finished cutting out all of the cookies, brush them with some of the lightly beaten egg.
Place them in a 350°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. (Remember to check them right after the 15 minutes since not all ovens are the same. The edges will look a little golden when the cookie is done). Remove from oven and place in a cooling rack.