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Cuban Sugar Cookies with Guava and Lime (Torticas de Morón)

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.

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Star Sugar Cookies

Star Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies, but sometimes they are more about the pretty shapes and decorations then they are about the flavor. This recipe is both festive and delicious. I add lemon juice and zest to give the cookies and icing a bit of a zing. The decorating can be as simple as spreading the icing over the cookie and sprinkling them with icing sugar. If you want a more sophisticated look, you can go all out and have a perfectly smooth finish, which takes a little more time, but the cookies are a show-stopper for a 4th of July party.

Star Sugar Cookies
Makes: 60 small cookies or 30 large
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 8 to 10 minutes
Decorating time: depends on the finish you like
Skill: Easy, but several steps

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