Friday, November 16, 2007
Cuba: Torticas de Morón
A Cookie for every country
Cuban cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines. Cuban recipes share spices and techniques with Spanish and African cooking, with some Caribbean influence in spice and flavor. A small, but noteworthy, Chinese influence can also be accounted for, mainly in the Havana area. Cuban cuisine has almost nothing in common with Mexican cuisine, which is a surprise for many visitors from the United States or Europe. It also differs from other Latin American cuisines and food traditions of the United States.
In a country where sugar has historically represented both the main agricultural and industrial endeavour, desserts are ubiquitous. The simplest sugar dessert is raspadura, which is pure solidified sugar can molasses. Criollo cooking usually resorts to very simple desserts made mainly with fruit and sugar, such as dulce de coco (ground coconut flesh boiled with sugar) or casquitos de guayaba (guava flesh boiled with sugar). Dulce de Guayaba, barra de guayaba or membrillo are names that describe one of Cuba's most ubiquitous dessert: Guava paste (made with guava, sugar and gelatine). Most Cuban desserts are tremendously sweet (usually, fruits and sugar are used in equal quantities for the recipe), and this has established the custom of eating these desserts along with salted cheese or cream cheese, that help reduce the perceived sweetness of these dishes. Other common ingredients in criollo desserts are cinnamon, lime and vanilla.
Torticas de Morón originated in the town of Morón, and is sold at bakeries as a popular snack item. The original is typically made with lard (although vegetable shortening seems to be a fairly common substitution) and the lime and rum flavors make its taste distinctly Cuban.
Torticas de Morón
3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp lime zest
1 large egg
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp white rum
Guava paste (or regular jam, if unavailable)
Confectioners sugar, for serving
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer), cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in lime zest and egg, followed by lime juice and rum. Gradually beat in the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you work, until dough comes together.
Divide dough into three portions and work with each one individually. Work with one piece of dough at a time, wrapping the others in plastic wrap and placing in the refrigerator.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 1/3" inch thick. Dust lightly with flour as you work to keep the dough from sticking. Use a lightly floured 2-inch round cutter to cut out circles of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.
Cut pieces of guava paste into dime-sized circles or squares, making each approx 1/4 inch thick (circles if your guava paste comes in rolls, as mine does, and squares if yours comes in a brick). Lightly press one piece into the top of each cookie.*Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
Bake for 13-16 minutes, until cookies are light gold at the edges. Cool on baking sheet for 4-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Yield: about 3 dozen.
*Note: If you don’t have guava paste, you can use jam. Simply make a depression in the cookie before you bake it, then fill with a spoonful of jam before serving.
With minor variations, recipe courtesy of Baking Bites.