Miami is a huge melting pot of Latin, South American, European and Central American influences. What I love is that you can drive down Calle Ocho and spot a Venezuelan bakery, followed by a Cuban bakery a few doors down. I've never been exposed to such diversity all in one city! When I first visited Miami almost a year ago, Israel took me to a couple Cuban bakeries and I tried all of the popular snacks: pastelitos de guayaba, pastelitos de carne, tostadas, and croquetas de jamón. These can be found at any Cuban cafe, bakery or walk-up counter.
I had never heard of guayaba or guava, as the "gringos" say, but it has a similar taste to a strawberry rhubarb filling. The paste is a thick puree of guava fruit and sugar. I discovered Marta's blog, My Big Fat Cuban Family, and her recipe for homemade pastelitos de guayaba and it looked so easy that I had to try it! She even made these for her friend Desi Arnaz Jr. (I know, right?!) and they are Desi-approved.
I love that living in Miami you can find things like guava paste at a normal grocery store without having to visit an international specialty store. Israel was surprised when I told him that they didn't have these kind of things in the Midwest. So if you do live basically anywhere else than Miami, you can usually find them at a Latin market or in the Hispanic section of your grocery store. :)
La Cubanita means the "little Cuban woman." :) I am in love with the packaging!
I've never made anything with these pastry sheets before, but I think this will turn into a new obsession. It's so easy!
I made these at night under horrible lighting conditions, so I regret the flashy quality of this photo. But here are the infamous guava slices! They're sticky but firm like gelatin.
Están casi listos...
I could only fit about 6 pastelitos onto my 8x8 cookie sheet, but on a 9x13, you should be able to get in about 15.
1 package of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
1 bar of guava paste
1 eight-ounce block of cream cheese
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 tsp. sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Line 9x13 (or 8x8) cookie sheet with parchment paper so guava won't stick. Unfold one of the pastry sheets and place on sheet (you'll definitely want to wait until they are well thawed out, but not too flimsy, because I was a little impatient and tried unfolding it while it was still a bit frozen and I cracked part of it off... don't follow my example).
Cut guava into 1/4 inch (or whatever desired thickness suits you) slices and line two-by-two on pastry sheet. For an even richer pastelito experience, spread cream cheese over guava slices. Unfold second pastry sheet and place on top of guava paste/cream cheese mixture. Cut into desired size before baking. To add a slight glaze, beat egg white and sugar together. Brush mixture over pastry before baking.
Bake at 400 degrees or until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating, because that guava is steaming HOT! I was impatient once again and ended up burning my tongue. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.
I was so happy to share this with my Cuban in-laws who were impressed that an American had made these. Enjoy this flaky, gooey, guava goodness!