Ask A Connecticut Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

Ask A Connecticut Expert: Christmas Cookie Recipes

Although her motto and philosophy of cooking is “Be Healthy, Eat Great Food,” Chef Kashia Cave knows that during the holidays, everyone expects and needs cookies, and she knows all about Christmas cookies. Chef Cave grew up in Trinidad, where she learned her skills in her grandmother’s kitchen. After completing her formal training as a chef in Europe, she came to Connecticut and founded My City Kitchen, a nonprofit organization in Meriden that teaches cooking and nutrition skills to children. Chef Cave is involved in and supports many charitable organizations, especially those that help inner city children learn to eat healthy. She is a regular guest on local television, and is also a recipe developer who has tested recipes for major cookbooks including Ramin Ganeshram’s “FutureChefs” (Rodale, Oct 2014). She developed these holiday cookie recipes for us.(In October, Chef Cave led a food tour in Italy, where she studied the culinary arts. For more on that tour, go to www.kashiacave.grouptoursite.com). To follow Chef Cave herself on twitter, go to @MeridenChic.

Kashia Cave
Founder and President
My City Kitchen, Inc.
384 Pratt St./P.O.Box 176
Meriden, CT 06450
(203) 630-2870
www.mycitykitchen.org

Coconut-Pineapple Sugar Cookies
Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies

“This is my take on traditional sugar cookies,” notes Chef Cave. “Coconut, pineapple and mixed essence—a common flavoring in the Caribbean—give them a tropical twist.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour (not sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated coconut, not sweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon mixed essence extract (available in Caribbean markets)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup candied pineapple, chopped finely
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut

Directions:

  1. Using a whisk, stir together the flour, coconut flour, dried coconut and salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy, about 6 minutes in a standing mixer or 10 minutes using a hand-held electric mixer.
  3. Add the egg, coconut milk, mixed essence extract and coconut extract and pineapple pieces and beat until well combined, about 45 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three batches, stirring well after each addition.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm. Dough will keep for up to three days refrigerated or may be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to one month.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Place the shredded, sweetened coconut into a small shallow bowl.
  8. When dough is thoroughly chilled, use a 1-ounce ice cream scoop and drop the dough into the shredded coconut. Using the back of a spoon press down on the dough so that it is flattened to about 1/3-inch thickness and pressed into the coconut. Turn the dough over and press gently so both sides are coated; repeat until all of the dough is used. If you do not have a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, drop tablespoons of the dough into the shredded coconut and repeat until all of the dough is used.
  9. Arrange the cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 14 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly.

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Guava Sandwich Cookies
Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies

“These cookies feel like familiar raspberry or apricot sandwich cookies except that they are made with guava jam,” explains Kashia. “Guava is a common fruit in tropical areas and are plentiful in Trinidad—they are one of my favorites.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon mixed essence
  • 2 cups guava jam

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale yellow and fluffy, about 6 minutes in a standing mixer or 10 minutes using a hand-held electric mixer.
  3. Add the egg and mixed essence and beat until well combined, about 45 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three equal batches, stirring well after each addition.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 1 hour or until firm. Dough will keep for up to three days refrigerated or may be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to one month.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. When dough is thoroughly chilled, flour a work surface lightly and roll each disk out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes.
  8. Arrange the cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly.
  9. Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of guava jam on the bottom of one cookie and sandwich the cookie with another cookie, bottom side facing jam. Repeat until all cookies are sandwiched.

Fruitcake Bars
Makes 2 dozen

“This fruit bar is inspired by ‘Black Cake,’ a rich rum and wine soaked dried fruit cake that is traditionally served in Trinidad and other Caribbean islands at Christmas and other special holidays,” explains the chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoon cashew nut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed essence (available in Caribbean markets)
  • 1 teaspoon spiced rum (such as Meyers)

Directions:

  1. Place the cashews in a food processor or industrial blender and grind into small pieces.
  2. Add the prunes, cherries and raisins in the food processor and process to small pieces, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the cashew nut butter, salt, cinnamon, mixed essence and spiced rum. Process into a rough paste.
  4. Remove and roll out the mixture onto a cutting board into a 14 x 14 square. Cut into one- to two-inch squares. Store between waxed paper sheets in a tightly sealed containers.

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