Tag Archives: guava

Sweet Guava and Cream Cheese Spread

Early mornings at my grandparent’s house in Puerto Rico were extraordinarily beguiling and captivating.  My older sister, Cynthia, and I awoke every morning in the soft, white-cloud canopy of mosquito nets hung from hooks embedded in lofty ceilings.  In the drowsy world of being not quite awake, as we stirred, not yet aware of sights and sounds, we felt like brides…or princesses.  As we lay in our beds savoring the last vestiges of morning coolness, we took pleasure in the cooing of doves outside our windows.  The gentle swish, swish, swish of slippers against old floor tiles signaled the house was coming to life and someone, thank you God!, was making coffee.  Even as little girls we always drank coffee.  Everyone did.  I remember my mother laughing as she told me the story of my Tio Roberto and coffee.  Mama said my uncle was a young boy of maybe five or six years old when my grandfather found him somewhat wistful and down in the mouth.  Tio Roberto was my grandfather’s favorite boy and couldn’t bear to see him unhappy.  “Mi nene, pero que te pasa”?  “My son, what’s wrong?”  In a low voice my uncle answered, “Aye, Papa!  I hate school!” “But why?”, asked my grandfather.  Tio Roberto answered, “I miss my 10:00 cafe con leche.”  That cracks me up every time I think about it.  His father replied, “Well, you don’t have to go to school.  Stay home and have your cafecito as long as you want.”  Can you imagine saying that to your kindergartener? And so my uncle did.  Everyday my mother, aunts and uncles would pile into the coach to be driven to school while my Tio Roberto stayed home…alone…with no one to play with.  No brothers to go fishing or ride together.  No brothers to climb trees with or sisters to tease.  That had to be hell.  That lasted two or three days, he gave up his mid-morning coffee and back to school he happily went.

Breakfast in Puerto Rico was always modest and light.  Don’t get me wrong, it was always enjoyable but never heavy with pancakes and meat and cheesy casseroles.  Breakfast typically consisted of strong Puerto Rican coffee laced with steamed whole milk and a generous spoonful of island sugar.  Oh, but it was good!  Alongside jugs of ice-cold water, one at each end of the table, were baskets of crackers to be eaten with a little local cheese or butter.  And there was, without fail, fresh fruit.  Luscious wheels of deep, coral-red papaya or sweet, golden pineapple beautifully carved and laid out on platters would complete the meal.  But if we were really lucky we would be served guava paste or guava spread.  Guava and cream cheese spread is sublime offered firm and cold from the refrigerator or warm and runny having been freshly made.  These days it’s a beautiful addition not only at breakfast or brunch but also at cocktail hour.  The addition of the cream cheese and sour cream in the recipe lends the spread the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  It’s beautiful at a shower, picnic or pool party and lasts forever covered in the refrigerator.  Here in Florida guava paste may be found on the bread aisle at Winn-Dixie and on the canned fruit aisle at Publix.  If you can’t find it just ask.  And last, I buy the guava paste cryovaced in block form made by Goya.  Buen provecho!

Sweet Guava and Cream Cheese Spread

  • Servings: 5 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 14 ounces guava paste
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Place guava paste in a medium size bowl and on high heat soften 30 second increment until there are still lumps but you are able to stir the paste.  You don’t want it to become liquid.
  2. Add the softened cream cheese and sour cream and stir until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Serve with crackers, biscotti or fruit.  For a thicker, firmer consistency, cover and chill for several hours.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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Quick Guava and Cream Cheese Tartlets

In keeping within the last-minute and easy holiday treats theme, (see my last post of Parmesan, Pepper and Lemon Oyster Crackers), this sweet morsel is just the ticket.  I love bringing island and tropical flavors to our house as we live in the tropics and also, due to my Puerto Rican roots, our Christmas season is redolent with joyous, celebratory music, luscious ripe fruits from hot climes and plenty of brilliant sunshine.  Pineapple, guava, tamarind, orange and limes, guanabana, mamey sapote, coconuts and apple bananas are some of the magnificent fruits of the season.  I made these guava and cream cheese tartlets just so I could nibble on guava paste.  Sweet and utterly decadent, the taste and even the smell of the ripe, fresh fruit careen me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Puerto Rico.  As a child the kitchen seemed cavernous although now I marvel at the countless breakfast, lunch and dinners that little nook cranked out, day in and day out for years.  The aromas which wafted out of that kitchen are legendary but at Christmas… well!  My grandmother was a renown baker, recognized throughout the island for her magical cakes.  Her wedding cakes were breathtaking in beauty and taste.  I’m pretty sure the rum syrup she drizzled over them had a lot do with it.  One of the cakes ordered often was the “brazo gitano” or gypsy arm.  It was a vanilla sheet cake slathered with homemade guava paste, rolled up, heavily dusted with confectioner’s sugar and topped with four or five maraschino cherries.  Being so young in age I never understood why someone would want, never mind PAY, for a cake without icing.  A cake without one edible, handmade and hand painted Cinderella or Snow White.  There weren’t any lilies or roses, dwarfs or footmen in livery or, at the very least, sweet, little woodland creatures.  But the gypsy arms sold.  And the profits were my grandmother’s “pin” money.  I would give anything for a taste of one of those cakes.  Or to smell the vat of fresh guavas and sugar bubbling away on the stove.  Christmas time turned the kitchen and dining room into a bustling hive of activity.  My grandmother would hum often when she made her flowers.  What an indulgence it was when she would pinch off a small knob of pastillage for me to savor!  I can see her now, her arms flailing wildly, as she shooed away the errant sparrow who mistakenly flew in through an open window and swooped down to light on one of her floral masterpieces.  Those precious days are gone as well as many of our family members who lived at my grandparent’s massive house.  So many were involved in one way or another.  An aunt might help out by trimming the crusts off the of the gypsy arm.  Any uncle who happened to be around could not sit down to a freshly brewed cafe con leche until he helped carry the 4-foot high wedding cake out to the waiting van.  But the fruit desserts, the “brazo gitano”, which in the folly of my youth I completely disregarded, are today dear to me although they are now faint memories.  We may not have these treasured sights, sounds and smells any longer but I guarantee you, cut off a sliver of guava paste, close your eyes and as it slowly melts in your mouth you’ll be with me at 177 Flanboyanes Avenida.

These little tartlets are a sweet-salty treat that will surprise you with their ease of preparation.  At my grocery store the guava paste is shelved with the canned fruit…go figure.  Packed air-tight in plastic, guava paste is a great pantry staple to have on hand especially during the holidays when sweets are more…how shall I say? De rigueur.  Also good to have on hand are the frozen fillo shells.  Simply store them in the back of your freezer and when you need a quick nibble to enjoy with a glass of champagne they are at your service to fill with shrimp, mushrooms sautéed in wine and tarragon or any number of combinations.  The little shells crisp up perfectly and add a great touch of elegance to any cocktail hour.  I know I don’t to tell you there should always be 2 or 3 bricks of cream cheese in the refrigerator as well.  If you’re pressed for time or low on energy, skip the fruit or berries on top and merely give the finished tartlets a good dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  Enjoy!

 

Guava and Cream Cheese Tartlets

  • Servings: 45 bitesize tartlets
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 14-ounce block guava paste, for some reason it’s stocked in the canned fruit section of my grocery store so look around for it
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1.9-ounce boxes of mini-fillo shells, total 45 shells
  • confectioner’s sugar to garnish, optional
  • berries or pomegranate seeds to garnish, optional
  • fresh mint leaves to garnish, optional
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Place the fillo shells on a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and egg until light and fluffy.  Set aside.
  3. Place guava paste in a microwaveable bowl and heat in 30 second intervals until the paste has melted.
  4. Pour the melted guava paste into the cream cheese mixture and add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract.  Mix until smooth and there are no streaks.
  5. Fill each shell with a generous teaspoon of the guava mixture.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and immediately dust with confectioner’s sugar, carefully press in mint leaves and berries.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

 

Tropical Fruit Bellinis

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There are several thing we moms enjoy receiving on Mother’s Day.  Massages, facials, manis and pedis are consistent winners.  Jewelry is ALWAYS exciting especially when handmade out of macaroni and string.  I have an artisanal necklace handmade by James which I treasure made of string and beer can tabs.  However, a summer bag or cute, strappy sandals are always appreciated.  I think what we all want is the perfect day…you know…the one where everyone is home and getting along.  Dad is happy and sweet to everyone and the kids are cheerful and act as though they’re thrilled to spend the day with Mom and not with their friends at the beach.  It’s the day when moms want to feel a little like a girl again.  Yes, we LOVE, L.O.V.E., opening homemade cards from our children and seeing how excited they get when preparing us breakfast in bed.  But part of the day is the girly thing and that’s where the husbands come into play.  I realize I’m not my husband’s mother; he is quick to point that out as we get closer to Mother’s Day.  But if Mom is running behind the children getting them ready for church, brunch and the beach she’s not relaxed.  Mama doesn’t want to man the grill or mix the cocktails.  Nor does she want to think about what she’ll pack for lunches the following week while standing in line at the grocery store Sunday night.  No.  What she’d really like is to be pampered a bit and not have to lift a finger.  For just one day.  Just one.  Bottles of champagne will bring big smiles as will pretty cocktails.  Even better in the pool.  On a float.  With James Taylor, Jack Johnson or John Mayer singing away in the background on the outdoor speakers.  Those are my thoughts.  So to all my moms, Happy Mother’s Day.  You bring us joy!

How I miss my mom! Look at her tiny waist, rockin' that one-piece. She was one phenomenal lady!
How I miss my mom! Look at her tiny waist, rockin’ that one-piece. She was one phenomenal lady.

 

This drink is a marvelous concoction from the book “Essentially Lilly” published by Harper Collins.  It’s a great book on entertaining by our wonderful Lilly Pulitzer, replete with photos of vibrant, brightly colored Lilly prints and fabrics, Lilly’s family and her legendary Palm Beach pool parties.  It’s a fun, fun read.  As she states in her book, if you wish to make this Bellini alcohol-free substitute the Prosecco with either sparkling apple cider or ginger ale.  Also, leave out the sugar.  The fruit puree can be prepared one day ahead of serving, covered and refrigerated.  It will then be mixed with the sparkling wine just before serving.  Mama will be so happy!

”Tropical

  • Servings: ”4
  • Difficulty: ”easy”</p>
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Make Ahead For Easter – Guava Cream Cheese Flan, yeah baby!

IMG_8722_1024 In the days before Easter Mama always prepared one of her two signature dishes, flan.  Hers was always beyond perfection.  There were never any offensive bubble holes and, without fail, a generous amount of caramelized syrup.  I’ve told y’all before…that woman could.not.cook.  Dinners were a consistent disaster, everything was burned to a charcoal briquet level on one side.  Her solution to that problem?  Serve the dinner burn side down and no one will ever know.  That, coupled with the fact that my little sister Pamela knocked her glass of milk over just about every night, made for stressful dinners round our dining room table.  Mama just wasn’t into eating or cooking and assumed everyone else felt the same way.  But her Sunday roasts and flans were spectacular triumphs.  The dessert was always the traditional egg, milk and vanilla flan, her mother’s recipe.  In recent years many have ventured into additional flavors such as mango, coconut, guava and other Caribbean tastes.  Mama stuck with what she knew.  I find a guava cream cheese flan is easier due to the changed instructions.  For my mother’s traditional version the eggs are beaten until smooth but as lightly as possible so as not to create unsightly holes when the custard is baked.  Whereas a flan with cream cheese can be made in a food processor or blender.  The addition of the fruit and cream cheese produces a dessert much denser, almost a cheesecake in texture, and no holes.  It’s rich and creamy, just perfect for a holiday.  The fact that it needs serious chilling time in the refrigerator makes for a splendid do-ahead last course. IMG_8734_1024

 

Guava Cream Cheese Flan

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 14-ounce pack guava paste, cut into pieces
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Love having fresh guavas in the kitchen. Their perfume is positively heady!
Love having fresh guavas in the kitchen. Their perfume is positively heady!
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. To a food processor or blender, I think the blender works best, add 1 cup sugar, milk, cream cheese and guava paste.  Blend until smooth.  Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and pulse until the eggs are completely broken up and incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
  3. Heat 1 cup of sugar in 10″ round cake pan melting slowly over medium heat.  Do not stir as that will create sugar crystals and you want a smooth syrup.  Gently swirl the melted sugar, covering the bottom and sides, until the syrup turns a golden brown.
  4. Place round cake pan in a bain marie, a bain marie being a pan with hot water for slow, even cooking.  The water in  the bain marie should come up about 3/4 of the side of the cake pan.
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes then remove from oven.  Cool in bain marie.  The flan will continue cooking in the hot water.
  6. When completely cool remove cake pan from water, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.  I chill mine overnight and often a couple of days in advance of serving.
  7. When ready to serve have a serving dish or platter with a good-sized lip to catch the syrup that WILL come flying out.  Holding the flan with one hand use the other hand to firmly rap the sides of the custard loosening it.  You’ll see the flan come away from the sides of the baking pan.  Cover the top of the flan with the platter and over your sink QUICKLY invert the custard.  The flan should flop right onto the platter followed by the syrup.  If you’re not accustomed to doing this, the transfer from baking pan to serving platter can be done hours in advance when you’re not pressed for time and no one is watching.  Cover the flan with plastic wrap and place back in the refrigerator to stay cool until ready to serve.