A Little History
After I graduated from college, I was offered a teaching job at Antilles High School on Fort Buchanan in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I lived in Puerto Rico for two years and while there I was introduced to a wonderful tropical fruit known as guava. While I was living there, I occasionally stopped at a small ice cream shop on my way home from school to treat myself to some ice cream. My favorite ice cream flavor was guava – pink, pretty and so delicious! If I had to compare it to any other fruit I would say it’s a little bit like a strawberry in flavor, but it really has a unique flavor all its own.
Recently I was looking through one of my cookbooks (as all good foodies do!) and I noticed a recipe for Guava Pinwheels using only two ingredients – puff pastry and guava paste. The recipe was in the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, published in 1997. It sounded good to me so I was off to the store to buy some guava paste. Goya is a big name in Latin American food distributors so I looked for Goya Guava Paste. I found it in the international section of a local grocery store with all the Hispanic food.
About Guava and Guava Paste
Guava is a common tropical fruit cultivated and enjoyed in many tropical and subtropical regions. The most frequently eaten species is the apple guava. An interesting fact about guavas is that they do not require excessive use of chemical pesticides. Guavas are one of the least chemically treated and sprayed fruits. They can be grown from seeds in a pot indoors and will bear fruit as soon as they are 2 years old and for as long as 40 years. Guavas contain a high level of pectin – the substance that makes jams and jellies “jell” – so guavas are often used in jellies, jams and in guava paste. Guavas are high in fiber and vitamin C – four times the vitamin C of an orange!
Guava Paste is a thick puree of guava and sugar which is very popular in the Caribbean and Spain. In Mexico guava paste is commonly paired with cheese and eaten with crackers. Guava paste can be combined with a small amount of water and melted down in a saucepan to form a glaze, which presents some interesting possibilities. It is frequently used in pastries for breakfast or dessert. Guava paste is sold in short, wide cans or in plastic packaging.
Guava Pinwheels are made of two ingredients, puff pastry and guava paste. Puff pastry is purchased frozen so the first step in preparing this recipe is to thaw the puff pastry, which can take from 20-40 minutes. The guava paste is placed evenly over the puff pastry sheet, after it has been unfolded. I was not able to “spread” the guava paste, even though it was at room temperature as recommended, so I cut thin slices of the guava paste and placed the slices on top of the pastry sheet.
The two long edges are rolled inward to meet the middle; then a small amount of water is used to dampen the pastry between the two rolls and gently press them together along the seam.
Using a sharp knife, cut slices from the joined rolls. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 400°F.
Using a spatula, transfer the pinwheels to a place to cool. Be careful, the paste turns into a hot liquid!
- 1 8-oz. sheet commercially prepared puff pastry, defrosted
- 1/2 cup guava paste (4 oz.)
- Working gently but quickly, unfold the puff pastry sheet. Spread the guava paste evenly on the pastry sheet.
- Curl the two longer edges up and roll them inward like jelly rolls to meet in the middle.
- Dip your fingers in water and lightly dampen the pastry between the two rolls; then gently but firmly press the two rolls together along the seam.
- Using a sharp, thin knife, cut the joined rolls crosswise into 1/2" thick slices.
- Arrange the slice cut side down on the unoiled baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the pastries are puffed and golden.
- Using a spatula, transfer the pinwheels to a place to cool.
- Guava paste is an intensely flavored concoction, denser and more flavorful than jam or jelly.
After reading about cream cheese and guava paste being combined in turnovers, I made some without really using a recipe. I thawed a sheet of puff pastry, cut it into squares, put some cream cheese and guava paste on it, folded it over and used a fork to press the edges together.
The Guava Turnovers were baked at 400°F. for about 15 minutes.
I did not add icing to the Guava Turnovers but there is a recipe on the Food Network by Daisy Martinez for Guava Cheese Turnovers to which she adds confectioner’s sugar icing. Click here if you would like to view her recipe.
Guava Nectar is available in the Hispanic section of the grocery store also. It’s a flavorful and soothing drink.
I’ve heard that you can even use guava paste in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, substituting the guava paste for the jelly portion!
I’m going to use my remaining guava paste in muffins to see how that works out. It should melt in the middle of the muffin if I put some batter in the tin, then 1/2 teaspoon or so of guava paste, and top it with more muffin batter. I look forward to trying that!
Remember to Savor the Flavor of a Brand New Year!
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