14 junio 2007

Digging up my roots: Cuban pastelitos de guayaba

Lately I've been feeling a bit like something in between homesickness and nostalgic. I don't really have a home -- a place I can go to year after year to visit family and feel a sense of belonging even after years of absences -- nor is is nostalgia because I definitely didn't even want to be there when I did live there. I'm speaking mostly about Miami (in America, of course). I only lived there for 2 years of my 25, but each time I go back I find that I miss it a bit more each time I visit. I spent most summers there. As a child Miami meant pastelitos de guayaba, coconut ice cream, sweet biscuits with rainbow sprinkles that tasted a bit much like chemical raising agents, Cuban bread...Miami meant food, sweets and going to our favourite park.

On my last visit in Miami I indulged in many of my childhood favourites, including scarfing down nearly an entire box of pasta de guayaba (guava paste, pictured above) that has a layer of crema de leche as well. Yesterday I suddenly began craving pastelitos de guayaba or guava puff pastries and was determined to have some! Unfortunately I ate them before they could be chased down by the paparazzi to be photographed, but I do have the recipe left behind. Once I took a bite I was instantly transported back to those uncomfortable visits to my aunt's house where she always greeted us with a box of pastries from the bakery. So. Yum.

Pastelitos de Guayaba

1 can of pink guava fruit
1 tsp lemon juice
100 g Castor sugar
100 ml water
5-6 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, for egg washing

Preheat your oven to 190º C. Open your can of guava fruit and remove the seeds and pulp. Save half of the liquid. Using a food processor or immersion hand blender, blend the fruit shells with the lemon juice and half of the can syrup until you've got a smooth paste. Place the paste into a saucepan and simmer for 15-20 minutes over low heat or until the paste has reduced a bit. Allow to cool slightly. Divide each sheet of puff pastry into 3 long strips. Smear a strip of guava paste down the center of one strip leaving space along all edges, moisten the 4 edges and place another strip over the first strip. Lightly press the edges and smooth them out making sure not to squeeze any of the paste out. Repeat the process until you've used up all of your puff pastry strips.

Place your strips on a lightly oiled tray, brush with some beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. While the pastries are baking, combing the sugar and water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minuets to create a simple sugar syrup.

When your pastries are golden brown, brush their surfaces with the simple sugar syrup and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool slightly. Slice each strip into 4 squares and enjoy! As a side note the pastries would definitely benefit from using a commercially prepared guava paste or by reducing your canned guava paste down to a thicker consistency to intensify the flavour.

It's needless to say that during my next trip to Miami I'll be buying everyone Cuban cooking product I can get my hands on, as this time around my suitcases were already too full with my life's belongings.

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