Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Make Cuban Sugar Cookies (Torticas de Moron) and Cuban Coffee by Cleo Coyle

Today marks the 112th anniversary of Cuba’s independence from Spain (May 20, 1902), a great excuse to celebrate Cuban cuisine with a popular cookie and, of course, Cuban coffee!

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Cleo Coyle’s
"Torticas de Morón"

Cuban Sugar Cookies

Torticas de Morón are melt-in-your mouth sugar-sprinkled shortbread cookies with a hint of lime (or lemon). They are fantastic with coffee, especially strong Cuban coffee. They also make lovely tea cakes.

The cookies were originally created in the city of Morón in central Cuba. Bakers have produced many variations. 
Some use eggs, some do not. Some add flavorings like vanilla and rum. Others even add a dab of chocolate or guava jelly to the center like a thumbprint cookie. 

In my version, I’m keeping things simple to preserve the character of the basic shortbread with a hint of citrus. I also do something special with the shortening (more on that in the recipe below.)

Note: The final addition of egg white on top of each cookie is something I learned from a Cuban-American baker and it's a step I highly recommend. Not only does the egg wash help keep the cookies from crumbling, it allows the sugar to adhere to the cookies while baking. And if you sample the cookies while still warm, you'll notice the egg wash brings a slightly chewy texture to the top surfaces, which makes a fantastic contrast you'll fully appreciate as you sink your teeth into these crumbly, melt-in-your mouth treats. 

Now let's start baking!
 ~ Cleo

For a free PDF of this recipe (with step-by-step photos) that you can print, save, or share, click here

Click here for PDF.

Makes about
2 dozen cookies                                              


2-1/3 cups all-purpose white flour
1-1/2 teaspoon lime or lemon zest (grated skin of fruit, no white pith)
1 cup white, granulated sugar (+ extra for topping)
1 cup shortening (see my note*)
1 large egg (divided into yolk and white)

*Cleo note: Shortening can be butter or lard or a combination. Many recipes use 100% butter. Be sure to use salted butter because with so little liquid in this recipe, the salt needs to be distributed via the butter. In my version of this cookie, I use ½ salted butter and ½ virgin coconut oil (chilled to give it solid form). Coconut is a popular flavor in Cuban cuisine and the coconut oil lends a lovely light hint of coconut to the shortbread. I highly recommend this combo, it’s delicious! For more info on coconut oil—what it is and which kind you should buy, read my past recipe post on Chocolate Ricotta Muffins by clicking here.


(1) Make and chill dough: Whisk together the flour and lime zest. Set aside. Now you’ll work with the shortening. Make sure your butter is softened and/or your coconut oil is solid. Add the sugar. Using an electric mixture, cream the shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk (save the white for the next step). Beat with mixer until the egg is blended in. Now add the flour-lime mixture, a few tablespoons at a time. 

Beat until incorporated and then add more until all the flour is well blended into the dough. Use your hands to squeeze together dough pieces. Knead a little, working with the dough until it’s smooth and form it into a ball. 

Turn the dough onto a parchment paper covered surface and work with the dough, shaping it into a thick cylinder of 2-inches in diameter. To get the log nice and smooth as shown, use the parchment paper to help roll it. 

Now roll up the dough cylinder in the parchment paper and place it in the refrigerator, chilling for at least 30 minutes. If you want to chill it longer (overnight or one or two days, wrap it tightly in plastic).

(2) Slice, top, and bake: Traditionally, the thickness of the cookie should be about 1 centimeter (a little less than ½ inch). So slice up the log and place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. 

Fork-whisk the egg white with a few drops of water. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash and finish with a sprinkling of sugar. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 300°F for about 30 minutes (check them at 25). Finished cookies should be cooked through the center but still mostly cream-colored on the surface with light browning around the top edges and bottoms. 

Care for some Cuban coffee 

with your Cuban cookies? 

Here's a little video (featured on my website) that will show you how to make it. My husband and I often make Cuban coffee with our stovetop espresso maker. It's a delicious treat. 



For a free PDF of this recipe,
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Eat (and read) with joy! 

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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