When my amazing man came home from deployment, I knew I wanted to make something special for him. I know he gets kind of homesick for Cuban food, so I decided to make guava pastries as a homecoming present for him. I knew I’d done well when he bit into one and said “It tastes like home!” followed by “I have to tell my mom!”
I based this on the pastelito recipe given by 3 Guys from Miami, but I made a couple of small changes. I am a big fan of minor ingredients that you don’t necessarily taste individually, but add to the overall flavor profile. I chose not to make my own puff pastry because 1) it’s really hard and 2) you need a cool kitchen/countertops to make puff pastry. Since I’m currently in Hawaii without air conditioning, purchased puff pastry sheets seemed like the far better option. This recipe actually makes a little more guava filling than fits in one box of puff pastry. I simply sealed the rest in a plastic container and froze it for future use. Frozen guava puree can be used in smoothies, sorbets, or thawed completely for more pastries in the future!
If you already have simple syrup at home, you can skip making the syrup in step 2. Just make sure you have plain simple syrup and not a flavored syrup for soda/coffee or an herbal syrup for specialty mixed drinks.
Ingredients for Guava Pastries
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1/2 cup of white sugar
- Two cans of guava shells in syrup
- Juice from 1 lemon (or about 2 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract (my optional addition)
- A dash of cinnamon (my optional addition)
- 1 box (2 sheets) of pre-made puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of water
Guava Pastry Recipe
1. Before you start doing anything else, make sure your puff pastry sheets are thawed! You can thaw them overnight in the fridge or on the counter – just refer to the box for specific instructions.
2. Combine the 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high/high. Stir until the sugar dissolves, bring to a simmer, and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Drain one can of guava shells, but do not drain the second can. Place the drained shells and the shells/syrup from the second can in a blender or food processor. Puree until it is almost smooth. I like a few small lumps, but you can puree until it is totally smooth, if you’d prefer. Add in the lemon juice and pulse to combine.
4. Transfer the guava puree to a medium sauce pan, stir in the vanilla and cinamon, if using, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened considerably. This should take about 15 minutes. Do not let it simmer, but it should visibly steam away liquid. Once it has thickened, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool somewhat.
5. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Once the filling has cooled and the oven is at temperature, prepare your puff pastry. You have a couple different options: you can make large, rectangular pastries and cut them into serving-sized pieces after they’re baked, or you can make triangular pastries. I tried both methods and found the rectangular version a bit easier to deal with. It is easiest to cut the dough on a counter protected with wax paper or parchment paper. If you don’t have a very sharp knife, simply use a pizza cutter!
- To make triangles, cut each puff pastry square into quarters. If you choose, you can then cut each square in half to make two smaller triangles. I tried both the quarter-sized triangles and the tiny triangles. You can’t put much filling in the smaller triangles, which could be a good thing or a bad thing1
- To make rectangular pastries, cut each sheet into thirds. If you do this with both sheets, you can make three long pastries.
7. Place your filling on the prepared dough. Do not spread the filling all the way to the edges – make sure to leave space to close the pastry up!
- If making triangular pastries, place filling on half of each square, as shown below.
- If you’re making rectangular pastries, spread a strip of filling down the center of half your dough rectangles. (The other sheets will be used as ‘tops.’)
8. Fold over your triangles/cover with your un-filled rectangular dough and press closed with moistened fingers. Puff pastry tends to seal best if you press it with wet fingers, fold it over, and then press it in place with a fork. Fork marks are attractive around the pastries edges, too! Place closed pastries on a baking sheet.
9. After closing up all your pastries, make an egg wash by vigorously whisking the egg and water together. Brush or spoon the egg was across all pastry tops, spreading it as evenly as possible.
10. Place your baking sheet of pastries in the oven and bake until they are almost fully cooked. If you’re making triangular pastries, this may take 15-20 minutes. If you’re making rectangular pastries, it will be closer to 30-40. Luckily, puff pastry lets you know when it’s finished because it will be golden brown, puffy, and flakey. When the pastry is starting to brown, but already looking nice and puffy, open the oven and slide the oven rack out. Working quickly, spoon, pour, or brush the simple syrup you made in step #2 across the pastries. You will have some syrup left over – that’s okay. You can just keep it in the fridge for some mojitos later! After coating the pastries, allow them to finish baking. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
11. Remove the pastries from the oven once the puff pastry is flaky and golden brown. Allow them to cool slightly before cutting rectangular pastries into serving-sized pieces.
12. Serve and enjoy!
These pastries are an incredibly popular Cuban breakfast food, but I also think of them as a good dessert. Whenever you choose to enjoy them, their sweetness goes fantastically well with a cup of espresso or Caffè Americano. If you don’t want to eat all of them in a day or two, you can freeze these pastries before or after baking, though freezing them before baking is better. Puff pastry can be frozen a second time and still puff up when baked!
Have you eaten Cuban guava pastries before? How about Cuban-style pastries with other popular fillings, like coconut or guava and cream cheese?