Earlier this year I went to Cuba for a long weekend. Having been there before, I was anxious to see what had changed in the intervening 13 years. (Answer: not a whole lot. Yet.) I couldn’t wait to hear the music. And, I was excited to eat some Cuban food.
Mind you, despite what you may imagine, not all Cuban food is good. Cubans are, by most points of comparison, poor, and ingredients are very hard to come by. That greasy cheesy Cuban Sandwich that you love so much? It’s American. No such thing on the island. The best food, though, comes from the front room of private homes, which commonly entails a handwritten paper “menu” hung on the open front door and a small folding table for anyone interested to settle at. A bowl of soup for 50-cents or a $1.50 sandwich can’t be beat. And then there are street vendors. I had the good fortune of passing by a man selling cookies. I don’t know what they were called, but they were delicious cookies filled with guava. They were not entirely unlike Casadinhos, but not quite the same either.
I returned home with every intention of recreating these, assuming that they must have been a typical galleta (“cookie”) and that I’d find all kinds of information online. I was wrong. So, I did the best I could with the recipes I could find. These are an imperfect approximation (the originals were a filled cookie and the filling never got sticky), but the flavor is great. I think you’ll enjoy them, especially if you close your eyes and imagine you’re just 90 miles south of the US!
Guava and Lime Sugar Cookies
Adapted from: The Cooking Channel
2 ½ c flour
1 t kosher salt
½ t baking powder
1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 c sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ t light rum
2 t lime zest
½ c guava preserves or jam
- Combine the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
- In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat for 3-4 more minutes, until it is pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat 1 more minute. Mix in the rum and lime zest.
- Add the flour mixture to the creamed butter all at once, and mix on the lowest speed until the flour is just incorporated, do not over-mix. (Start slowly so that it doesn’t make a mess!)
- 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. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.
- Place one portion of dough between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper and roll out to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut with a round cookie cutter (about 1 ½ inch wide) and transfer to baking sheet. When dough becomes too soft to handle, return it to the refrigerator briefly. Re-roll scraps once to cut more cookies.
- Using the base of a shot glass, the narrow end of a pestle, or even your finger, make a small indentation in the center of each cookie. This needs to be done when they are no longer too cold, or they will crack. 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.
- Place about ½ teaspoon of melted guava in the center of each cookie, do not overfill. Ultimately this will depend on the size of the indentation you made.
- Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully remove the cookies from the tray to cool.