Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pastelitos de Queso y Guayaba

Pastelitos are flaky Cuban pastries typically filled with cheese and/or fruit preserves. They are easily prepared with frozen puff pastry, and a quick dual filling of whipped, lightly sweetened cream cheese, and guava paste or preserves.

This flavor combination is not uniquely Cuban, as I've had similarly filled pastries in Puerto Rico, and seen the like on other Latin American menus. The tart and sweet guava is a perfect foil for the tangy cream cheese, and the lightly glazed puff pastry pocket is the ideal vessel for indulgence.

I used less than a tablespoon of each filling for each pastry a) to ensure there was enough for all of the dough, and b) because the pastries were comfortably full between the duo of fillings.

The simple syrup glaze creates a beautiful sheen with a light sweetness without yielding a soggy exterior. The pastry is crispy and flaky, and utterly decadent. These pastries were lovely for company, and easy enough to prepare relatively last minute.

Pastelitos de Queso y Guayaba
Makes 18 pastries
(Adapted from The Cuban Table)

2 sheets frozen puff pastry dough, thawed (from one 17 1/4-ounce package)
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

Guava Filling:
8 ounces guava paste, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons orange or lime juice

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

In a mixer or food processor, bear together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and orange blossom water until light and fluffy.

In a food processor or blender, add the guava pasta and orange or lime juice and process until smooth.

Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper.

Roll out the first sheet of pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch square, 1/8-inch thick. Using a small knife or pastry wheel, cut the dough to measure out 9 squares, 4-by-4-inches each. Add a scant tablespoon of guava topped with scant tablespoon of cream cheese filling, off center, to each square. Brush the egg wash around the filling, fold the pastry into a triangle, and seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Transfer the filled pastries to the prepared baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.

While the pastries chill, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare the glaze by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.

Brush the tops of the chilled pastries with egg wash, then bake until lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through baking time to ensure even browning.

Remove from the oven and brush pastries with the simple syrup. Allow the pastries to rest for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.


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