I used to think I wasn't the kind of person who wanted something sweet first thing in the morning, but then someone handed me a pastelito de guyaba along with a cup of strong coffee tinted with milk and my mind was forever changed.
The combination of intensely sweet guava paste and tangy cream cheese all encased in a flaky pastry dough has long been a common breakfast treat for Cuban communities and many others throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Bakeries stock this treat, home kitchens churn them out by the batches, and now you can count yourself among the many who know just how incredible this combination is with this recipe for making guava and cream cheese pastelitos at home.
Guava Loves Cream Cheese
The first time I had guava paste it reminded me of the tamarind candies my grandfather would bring from Jamaica when he visited my family in New York. Just like those sticky-sweet cubes of fruit coated in sugar, guava paste has a concentrated flavor and sweetness that comes from being cooked down into a paste. Today it's rather easy to get your hands on guava paste. You can usually find cans of the Goya brand in the Latin and Hispanic sections of the grocery store or in Latin markets.
Since they're made with puffed pastry, these pastelitos take exceptionally well to the freezer. Prep them through assembly and stash them in the freezer for up to two weeks, popping them straight in a 400ºF oven when you want something sweet and savory along with your coffee.
Guava and Cream Cheese Pastelitos
Makes 8 pastelitos
7 1/2 ounces
guava paste, such as the Goya brand
cold cream cheese
(17.3-ounce box) puff pastry, thawed but still cold
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cut the guava paste into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices. Cut the cream cheese into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices.
Place 1 sheet of the puff pastry on a work surface (keep the second sheet in the refrigerator). Cut into 4 squares. Place the 4 squares on 1 baking sheet. Place 1 slice each of the guava paste and cream cheese on the left half of each square. Dampen fingers with water and run them along the edges of each square. Fold the dough in half over the filling to create a rectangle. Press the edges to seal completely.
With the tip of a sharp knife, cut 3 slits in the top of each the pastry. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes before baking to firm up the butter. Meanwhile, repeat the process with the second sheet of puff pastry and baking sheet.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together to make an egg wash. Brush each pastelito with the egg wash. Bake each tray one at a time until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before eating. Be careful — the filling is extremely hot.
Freezing pastelitos: Unbaked pastelitos can be frozen on the baking sheet and then transferred and stored in an airtight resealable bag for up to 2 weeks; they bake perfectly from freezer to oven in the same amount of time.
Guava paste: Guava paste can be found in any major supermarket in the Latin section.
Storage: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven for 2 to 3 minutes.
Recipe by Sara Martinez.