Pastelitos de Guayaba (Cuban Guava & Cheese Pastries)

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If you happen to be lucky enough to find yourself in a Cuban bakery, chances are high that it will have Pastelitos de Guayaba, pastries filled with cream cheese and guava.

I was first introduced to these amazing pastries while living in Los Angeles, California. Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in LA is famous for many items on their sandwich and bakery menu – Cubano and Pan Con Lechon sandwiches, potato balls, tres leches cakes. One item on their bakery menu that they are particularly known for is their flaky puff pastry filled with guava and cream cheese.

After moving to Oahu, Hawaii, I sadly had to say goodbye to my beloved Porto’s. It never occurred to me to attempt making my own guava and cheese pastries until one day my aunt gave me several bars of guava paste. A lightbulb went on in my head, and homemade guava cheese rolls were next on my list of “Food to Make.”

These pastries are really easy to make, as long as you can get your hands on guava paste. Other than that, you need puff pastry, cream cheese, and an egg. So there you go. Make these at home yourself, and thank me later.

Pastelitos de Guayaba (Cuban guava & cheese pastries)

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Yield: 6 pastries

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 package puff pastry sheets
  • 1 bar guava paste
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • White granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Thaw puff pastry according to package instructions. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolk and milk.

On a lightly floured surface, unfold one of the pastry sheets, and cut into 6 squares. Then cut each square in half, so that you now have 12 rectangles. Transfer the rectangles to the lined baking sheet. Cut the guava paste into 6 equal portions and spoon onto 6 of the pastry rectangles. Top with the cream cheese. Brush the pastry edges with some of the egg wash. Top each of the filled and brushed pastries with the remaining pastry rectangles. Crimp the edges with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until firm.

Brush the pastries with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through, until the pastries are golden. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Coffee Ice Cream

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The great thing about coffee ice cream is how amazing it tastes. The not so great thing is that if you eat some at night, you may not be able to sleep because of all the caffeine. I was an insomniac until 4am.

I made coffee ice cream to accompany our Thanksgiving meal a few weeks ago. Mmm…it was so delicious. Creamy, rich with real coffee, and a perfect sidekick to the pumpkin pie.

The photo above was literally taken before I ate up the very last spoonful of ice cream. That’s how good it was, and how quickly we ate it up.

Coffee Ice Cream

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Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whole coffee beans (decaf or regular)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee

Directions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt, and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream until it is quite warm and steamy, but not boiling. Once the mixture is warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a medium size metal bowl, set on ice over a larger bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowls. Set aside.

Reheat the milk and coffee mixture, on medium heat, until again hot and steamy (not boiling!). In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour the heated milk and coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the warm milk, but not cooked by it. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof, flat-bottomed spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take about 10 minutes.

Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to extract as much of the coffee flavor as possible. Then discard the beans. Mix in the vanilla and finely ground coffee, and stir until cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pear Cake With Vanilla Bean Butter Glaze

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This pear cake with vanilla bean butter sauce is going to improve the state of your soul. Why? Because with cinnamon-coated pears baking in a cake will melt all your troubles away in an instant, and let you know that everything will be okay.

The moist cake is generously studded with ripe pears, and drizzled with a sweet glaze of vanilla and butter. I used Bartlett pears, but surely any good variety of pear will do. Add a splash of dark rum to the glaze? Why not! I did this on a whim while making my glaze, and gave myself a mental high five.

You can treat this cake like dessert, but if you decide to enjoy a piece with a hot mug of coffee and call it breakfast, no one’s stopping you. You are an adult who makes choices. Go for it.

Pear Cake With Vanilla Bean Butter Glaze

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Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: one cake (about 10-12 servings)

Ingredients

For the pears

  • 6 pears
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the cake

  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the sauce

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • splash of dark rum (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube or bundt pan. Peel, core and chop pears into 1-inch chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 tablespoons sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, apple juice, sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix wet ingredients into dry ones; scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of pears (and their juices) over it. Pour the remaining batter over the pears and arrange the pears apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Make sure your toothpick goes not just all the way down to the bottom, but does a shallow dip below the top layer of pears to make sure it comes out batter-free.

Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

While the cake cools, make the sauce. Split vanilla bean length-wise with a paring knife. Scrape out all the seeds. In a small saucepan combine vanilla seeds, butter, brown sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in splash of rum (if using).

Pour about 1/4 of the glaze into empty cake pan. Carefully reinsert cake back into pan. With a fork or skewer, poke holes into the cake. Drizzle the remaining glaze over the cake. Let sit for about 30 minutes, allowing glaze to absorb. Turn cake out onto serving plate.