Cuban pastries called pastelitos are classic Cuban treats that will brighten up any breakfast, party, or 3:05 cafecito. You might be surprised to hear that homemade Cuban pastries, those delicious pastelitos that you so crave and grew up eating, are EASY to make at home. Baked in buttery puff pastry, they are often filled with tropical sweets (like guava, mango, coconut, dulce de leche, and cream cheese) or stuffed with meat like shredded chicken or picadillo (we’ll make that filling another time for Cuban empanadas). Like many Cubans and tropical fruit lovers, I am obsessed with guava. Conchita brand guava marmalade poured over cottage cheese, mixed with thick Greek yogurt, spread on crackers with cream cheese, or stuffed into delicate layers of puff pastry- oh the possibilities are endless!
Today I am making Cuban pastries filled with guava and cream cheese also known as pastelitos de guayaba con queso. The cream cheese is lightly sweetened and the guava melts to a sticky liquid between the flaky pastry (half the adventure of eating these Cuban pastries is trying to avoid getting golden pastry crumbs all over yourself). Once the Cuban pastries are baking in the oven, the guava becomes molten hot lava- seriously ridiculously hot. The aroma of the fresh baking Cuban pastries will make your mouth water, but I urge you to wait around 10-15 minutes or even longer to allow the molten guava middle to cool. Break these pastries apart to enjoy with a steaming cup of café con leche or a little afternoon cortadito.
Makes 9 or 18 small pastelitos for a party
1 box puff pastry sheets or homemade puff pastry dough
½ small container of Guava Paste (or 7 ounces…I used Conchita brand)
8 ounce container of reduced-fat cream cheese
½ cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup water
Follow instructions on the box to defrost the puff pastry on parchment paper (this can be done overnight in the refrigerator or quickly on the countertop for 40 minutes). You can also be a real go-getter and make your own puff pastry!! Frankly I’m too busy, and the store-bought stuff is damn good too. Set the cream cheese out to soften on the countertop. When soft enough add half the sugar and vanilla, mix well, and set aside. Microwave ¼ cup of water for 30 seconds, and mix with the remaining half of the sugar to create simple syrup. Allow the syrup to cool.
Cut guava paste into rectangles of even thickness, cut in half, and lay evenly spread apart on the puff pastry. Top guava with sweetened cream cheese and then place the other layer of puff pastry on top. Brush the top of the pastry with simple syrup. Cut the Cuban guava pastelitos before baking in the oven. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Once again, I must repeat for the sake of your tongue’s safety…do NOT eat these until they have cooled down! The guava and cream cheese will be extremely hot, wait at least 15 minutes for maximum enjoyment.