Coffee. If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Our love affair started when I was a little girl. Cafe con leche, espresso with steamed milk, was served to us the moment we learned to hold a cup and saucer. A covered sugar bowl was always at the ready in the kitchen at my grandparents home in Puerto Rico, for strong coffee from the island was served all through the day and night to anyone who dropped by. Coffee was prepared by the cup never by the pot. Still used, is a cloth coffee strainer called a “colador”, which is a piece of white flannel that hangs off of a wooden handle and strains coffee grounds so pure, rich java drips right into your waiting cups or pot. If milk is added, both coffee and milk are warmed together in a small sauce pan. Coffee has always been highly valued and appreciated in Puerto Rico. The coffee which was grown and harvested on the island stayed on the island. The amount produced was immediately consumed so coffee was never exported. My mother, aunts and uncles were raised on it. They grew up in the country, outside of town. Mornings were the usual rush and scramble culminating with the same old argument of who was privileged to ride in the horse-drawn coach and who had to walk. One morning my uncle, Tio Roberto, sat down to breakfast and didn’t get up. Walking past him, my grandfather asked him why he looked so sad. With head hung low he answered he didn’t like school anymore, 1st grade wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. My grandfather stopped in his tracks and knelt down before my uncle. “But, son, what happened? You love school. You’re doing so well!” Of all the boys Tio Roberto was my grandfather’s favorite. In a low voice my uncle said, “Papa, I don’t like it. I don’t want to go back.” He was asked, “Why? What happened?” This just kills me. My uncle then said, “I miss my mid-morning coffee. My cafe con leche.” “Well, son”, replied my grandfather, “don’t go!” And so he didn’t. For three or four days he stayed home. Tio Roberto played, he played all he wanted but he played alone. On the fourth or fifth day, eyes downcast, he said to his father, “Papa, I miss my friends and brothers and sisters. I want to go back school!” And back to school he went. I love that sweet story. We do love our coffee, though. All the time, any time. Friends, family and neighbors were always dropping by and at all times treated equally which meant pastries with coffee. Yay! The guava cream cheese pastries my family served were typically from a bakery but these, because they’re homemade, are way tastier and almost as easy to make as driving to the store and parking the car. Store bought puff pastry makes this sweet treat easy as pie to assemble. I hope you’ll try this classic Latin pastry and enjoy it with good company and a strong cup of joe.
This recipe is so great! It can be prepared in advance and the assembly is pretty minimal. Most puff pastry is bought frozen so you’ll need to defrost it in the refrigerator. Thawing it on your counter will make it sticky and almost impossible to work with. I use Pepperidge Farm puff pastry which comes two sheets of pastry in a one pound box. I try to always have a box or two in the freezer because there is so much you can do with them. Any brand of guava paste will do, either in a tin can or in plastic cryovac packages. I add nothing to the cream cheese, no cinnamon, no lime zest, nothing. I want the saltiness of the cream cheese to enhance the sweet guava flavor. Buen Provecho!
Guava Cream Cheese Pastries, Pastelillos
- 2 1/2 pound sheets puff pastry, thawed but chilled
- 10 ounces guava paste
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Pre-heat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place one sheet of puff pastry on lined baking sheet and roll out to about an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle.
- Cut guava paste into 15 pieces and line the puff pastry with three rows of five pieces.
- Top each piece of guava paste with a smear of cream cheese.
- Brush the beaten egg on the dough in between the guava cream cheese stacks and onto the edges of the dough.
- Gently and loosely cover the guava/ cream cheese with the second sheet of pastry. With your finger tips or a slender dowel press down in between guava/cream cheese and pinch closed all the edges.
- Brush top of pastry with egg wash and bake for 20-22 minutes.
- Cool for 5 minutes. Using a pizza cutter, slice in between each mound of guava/cream cheese. You should have 15 pieces.
- Allow to cool another 5 minutes. For smaller bite size servings, cut each piece in half.
- Dust pastries with confectioner’s sugar and serve.