From Pastelitos to Sandwiches, Guava and Cheese Are a Perfect Match

Since childhood, I used to be by no means on board the PB&J bandwagon. For me, the jelly is overly candy and the peanut butter uncomfortably mouth-coating. However once I first took a chunk of my newly most well-liked different—guava and cheese—my style buds rejoiced.

“Guava and cheese is the Cuban peanut butter and jelly,” explains Ricardo Barreras, proprietor and chef behind Brooklyn’s Pilar Cuban Eatery. However I’m not afraid to scream it from the rooftops: Guava and cheese is fully extra scrumptious.

The salted, fatty cream cheese balances guava paste’s tropical, tangy sweetness. This fruity-creamy combo is widespread in pastry circumstances throughout the U.S., from layered croissants to stuffed doughnuts, however the authentic G&C may be credited to Cuban snacking traditions that made their method to Cuban Miami bakeries. Cuban bakers in Miami then paired guava and cheese with buttery puff pastry, engineering the deal with we all know and love right this moment: pastelitos de guayaba y queso.

Cuban cooks proceed to innovate new, equally scrumptious functions of this candy and salty duo. “I used to be instructed to scale back the variety of guava desserts,” Barreras says. He didn’t. From a slice of guava-and-cheese pie to guava, cheese, and turkey sandwiches, Barreras’ culinary innovations mirror his personal childhood recollections of coming house from the native bakery with a field of candy and savory pastelitos and pasteles. His love for guava runs so deep, he and his spouse named their household boat “Guava Jelly.”

My private love story originated not with a pastelito, however a nostalgic play alone roots: a Southern biscuit sandwich. Zeb Stevenson, chef and co-owner of Redbird in Atlanta, hosts a menu of the flakiest biscuits that warrant traces out the door each Sunday. “Folks assume the hen biscuit is the star as a result of we’re within the South, however we began biscuits with the guava-and-cheese in thoughts first.”

In his 20s, Stevenson’s pricey good friend shared cans of guava paste from care packages from her Cuban grandmother. Collectively, he and his associates made what they referred to as “the poor man’s pastelito” by sandwiching guava and cream cheese between two slices of white bread. Many years later, Stevenson perfected his personal G&C invention and now serves lots of of Southern biscuits full of guava paste, cream cheese, and house-milled cashew butter.

If you happen to’ve but to serendipitously style a guava-and-cheese deal with, it is perhaps time to analysis a native Latin American or Cuban bakery. Or, make a pastelito de guyaba of your individual. Guava paste may be present in most Latin American groceries or on-line. Merely enclose small slices of guava paste and cream cheese inside squares of puff pastry dough, fold them into triangles, and bake until golden brown. Professional tip from Barreras: Brush a contact of straightforward syrup onto the baked pastries—pastelitos ought to all the time be shiny, he says.

Past pastelitos, would possibly I like to recommend it within the type of Samantha Seneviratne’s melt-in-your-mouth guava and cheese rugelachs? Why not pour a vibrant, ruby-red guava glaze in your subsequent cheesecake? And your basic vanilla cake is just about asking you to unfold guava preserves in between the layers of cream cheese frosting and cake. As long as there’s guava and cheese, it’s sure to be scrumptious.

G&C > PB&J

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