Gear up for holiday baking with Cooking Channel. Your favorite chefs & Food People have opened their kitchens to share their best cookie recipes. From mini Red Velvet Whoopie Pies to Chuck’s Maple-Pecan Shortbread, we’ll keep you baking all season. Visit our All-Star Cookie Swap, then head over to FoodNetwork.com for great takes on holiday baking from Food Network chefs.
When I was growing up, the closest thing we had in Florida to a white Christmas were the piles of sparkly cotton batting surrounding Santa’s village at the mall. It may have been in the spirit of the season, but cheerful decorations of snowmen, reindeer, and bundled-up elves looked out of place during a balmy December in Miami. Occasionally the odd cold front would move through the area to drive our family’s Noche Buena celebration indoors, but it was rare. Now that I live in New York, I realize that there are worse things then spending the holidays under the stars, and appreciate the sight of palm trees strung with lights, radiating the warmth of chestnuts roasting on an open fire.
Spending time by a warm oven baking cookies during our tropical Christmas didn’t always make sense either, but some holiday traditions are too delicious to pass up. Torticas de Morón, named for the town in central Cuba where they come from, are sold year-round in bakeries throughout South Florida. Spiked with rum, flavored with lime and filled with jewel-toned guava preserves, the torticas were once made with lard, but I substitute butter, which adds its own richness. Possessing all the brightness of a day at the beach, these simple sugar cookies are a perfect way to enjoy the holiday — wherever you might find yourself.
Cuban Sugar Cookies with Guava and Lime (Torticas de Moron)
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes
Yields: About 3 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons light rum
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
5 tablespoons guava preserves or jam
Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until it is pale and fluffy, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat 1 more minute. Stir in the rum and lime zest.
Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter all at once then stir with a wooden spoon or spatula for a couple of turns. Return the bowl to the stand and mix on the lowest speed until the flour is just incorporated, do not over-mix. Shape the dough into 2 equal discs, and cover each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick liner.
Place one portion of dough between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper (keep remaining dough chilled) and roll out to about 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough. Return the rolled discs to the refrigerator between layers of parchment and chill until firm again, 15 to 20 minutes.
Using a round cookie cutter (about 1 1/2-inch wide) or other desired shape, cut out the cookies and place on the lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps once to cut more shapes. Using a small teaspoon or narrow end of a pestle, make a small indentation in the center of each cookie. Chill shaped cookies until firm, 5 minutes, while you prepare the guava filling.
In a small saucepan, melt guava preserves over low heat, 5 minutes, stirring constantly until smooth. Strain preserves into a bowl.
Place about 1/4 teaspoon of melted guava in the center of each cookie, do not overfill. Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly golden, though the tops will still be pale, 15 to 18 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies and lay out on a cooling rack.
Ana Sofia Peláez covers the spectrum of Spanish and Latin American cuisine on her blog hungrysofia.com. From the rich smells and flavors of the Cuban food she grew up with to modern Peruvian causas, hearty Brazilian feijodas and delicate Mexican flor de calabaza soup, she’s always looking for her next great meal.
We asked food bloggers we love to share their inspired twists on classic holiday cookies.
Click here to see all of the delicious cookie recipes.