Being a half-Cuban with a fierce sweet tooth, it is only natural that pastelitos (or pasteles as they are sometimes called) are one of my all-time favorite desserts! The mix of tart guava paste and savory cream cheese sandwiched between buttery layers of puff pastry make these dessert pastries a real crowd pleaser! I’ve made this recipe several times now and I can personally guarantee that your pastelitos will rival those found in the the most Cuban of Cuban bakeries straight off of Calle Ocho!
I wasn’t born knowing how to make this iconic Cuban dessert. You see, Cubans don’t typically make pastelitos because they are notoriously high-maintenance (scratch-made puff pastry) and why bother when you can easily head down to a local Cuban bakery to get your fix. Being a Miami-ex-pat living in California (and 6 months pregnant), desperate times called for desperate measures! I owe all of my pastelito-making prowess to a wonderful site and tremendous resource for Cuban cooking: Three Guys From Miami. These guys know their stuff and from what I’ve investigated on their site, most of their recipes are as close to authentic and traditional as it gets!
Having made this recipe three times now and have adjusted the recipe to be as close to the original bakery fare as I can remember. After using both the highly processed Pepperidge Farms dough and the whole-food (expensive) alternative, Defour dough, I sadly have to say that the extra chemicals yield a slightly better result. So, save yourself a good $10 and go for the Pepperidge Farms version! And enjoy this taste of the Caribbean!
PASTELITOS DE GUAYABA Y QUESO
- 1 package frozen puff pastry sheets (Pepperidge Farm or Defour brands work great)
- 1 package guava paste
- 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
- ¾ cup granulated white sugar
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. milk
- 2 eggs
- Other materials: parchment paper, rolling pin, brush (for egg wash), 2 decorator icing bags (or Ziplock bags with tip cut out)
Thaw out the frozen puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare guava filling: Take the block of guava paste and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place in a saucepan with ½ cup water and cook over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes or until the cubes begin to melt down.
Add 2 tbsp. of lemon juice to melted-down cubes. Continue to stir until the cubes melt down into a thick jelly-like consistency.
Prepare cream cheese filling: Begin with the cream cheese at room-temperature. Place in a bowl and mix well with blender. Add 1 tsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. milk to cream cheese, mix well. Add 2-3 tbsp. sugar (you want it only slightly sweetened) and mix well.
Prepare egg wash: Beat two eggs well with 2 tbsp. of water, set aside. Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Prep your work area with some flour to roll out your puff pastry sheets.
Use a pizza cutter to cut each sheet into four equal-sized squares. Cut diagonally to create 8 triangle shapes. Using decorator bags (or equivalent) to pipe the cheese mixture and guava mixture onto 8 of the triangle-shaped puff pastries. Be sure to leave at least a ½ inch border along the triangle to expedite sealing.
Take a small bowl of water and using your fingers, wet the boarders of both the bottom and top puff pastry triangles. Carefully place the top triangle on top of the triangle with the guava and cheese. Press down along all the edges and use additional water as needed to seal all edges.
Use the brush to cover each pastry with a generous amount of the egg wash before placing in the oven to bake. Bake in pre-heated oven for 35 minutes. While the pastries are cooking, prepare the simple syrup by mixing ½ cup water with ½ cup sugar and bringing to a boil. After bring to a boil, set temp to low and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered. Set aside.
After 35 minutes or the pastries have just begun to turn brown on top, remove the pastries from the oven and use a brush to cover pastries generously with simple syrup. Bake for another 5 minutes or until the simple syrup begins to caramelize.
Optional: Sprinkle with white sugar for a more textured crust, or leave them alone for a more traditional look!
Allow pastries at least 5 minutes to rest before devouring them all–or you’ll end up with a badly burned tongue!