EPICURIOUS: THE GREAT GUAVA

Published April 16, 2023
Photo by the writer
Photo by the writer

There is something about the guava that makes one nostalgic. Who didn’t have the fruit sprinkled with chaat masala and salt as a child? It’s still one of my favourite snacks: there’s something comforting and social about this chatpata, quick-to-make, fun-to-share treat.

While in the Subcontinent the guava is confined to chatpata snacks, in other parts of the globe it is used in everything from savoury sauces to fruit bars, candies and desserts. In Mexico, guava is one of the more popular flavours for agua fresca, a refreshing drink made by blending juice or flowers with sugar and water.

In the Philippines, ripe guavas are added to make sinigang, a stew. In Brazil, a medicinal tea, chá-de-goiabeira is made by infusing guava leaves and fruit. In Cuba and other parts of the Caribbean, a cube-shaped guava pastry, pastelitos de guayaba, is very popular.

While guava jam can often be found on store shelves in Pakistan, this pales in comparison to how you’ll find guava in everything in Latin America: from guava syrup drizzled on ice cream to marmalades and preserves. Goiabada, a preserve made from red guavas and sugar, is found througout Brazil. Bocadillo, a paste made by cooking guava in gurr (sugarcane), is a pantry-shelf essential in countries such as Colombia, Panama and Venezuela.

A Caribbean pastry for teatime snacking takes the fruit beyond chatpata

Guava and Cheese Pastry

Popular as a breakfast pastry in the Caribbean, these are quick and easy to whip up; they make for a great snack or a brunch treat with your morning chai. Don’t have time to make anything from scratch? Just use store-bought jam and puff pastry available at your local bakery.

Ingredients
(Makes about 36 small squares)

Puff Pastry

250g flour 225g butter Water, as needed

Guava jam

1.5 pound pink guavas 1/2 cup water 1.5 cup finely granulated white sugar Cream Cheese Filling 140g cream cheese Salt, as needed

Assembly

Icing/powdered sugar (optional) 1 egg, whisked

Method

  1. Make a guava purée. Cut up the guavas into quarters and scoop out the seeds. Add the water and blend. Cook the resulting purée in sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower heat. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes on a simmer until the mixture has a thick, pudding-like consistency.

  2. Make the pastry. Add a pinch of salt to the flour. Slowly add water and mix the flour till a crumbly mixture forms. Continue mixing and kneading till a firm dough forms. Wrap in cling film and cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough into a circle. Place the softened, cold butter in the centre of the rolled-out dough. Fold the edges of the dough in till all the edges overlap in the middle and roll over the dough, pressing down on it.

Re-shape the dough into a long rectangle. Fold one-third of the top and the bottom part of the rectangle till the ends overlap in the middle. Roll it over and press down. Repeat this step one more time. Seal any open edges and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Repeat the step of folding, rolling and chilling two more times. Chill for an hour before using.

  1. Whip the cream cheese in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Stir it once more.

  2. Divide the pastry in half. Roll out one half of the puff pastry dough into a quarter-inch thick 12-inch square. Cut the rolled-out dough into smaller 2-inch squares. Spoon cream cheese, followed by jam on each of the squares, leaving some space empty on all four sides. Whip an egg and brush on the empty edges.

  3. Roll out the remaining dough also into a quarter-inch thick 12-inch square. Form the remaining dough into a ball, cover with cling wrap and store in the freezer. Cut this dough also into 2-inch squares. Place these squares over the squares with the fillings. Pinch all the edges together. Lightly brush the top of each of the pastries with egg.

  4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake the pastries for 20 to 30 minutes or until done. Lightly dust with icing sugar if desired. Serve with chai or coffee.

Published in Dawn, EOS, April 16th, 2023

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