I can still remember getting excited to visit Miami because of the food I’d get to eat: Frankie’s Pizza, Arebetter’s Hotdogs, Skirt Steak from Versailles, and Cuban pastries from just about anywhere in the city. My favorites were always ham croquettes. Who doesn’t like ham and cheese coated in bread crumbs and fried? Unfortunately, I haven’t yet mastered making these for myself so I thought I’d share the pastries I have figured out how to do well. These pastelitos have already made me very popular at the office pitch ins and I know they can do the same for you.
I’ll start by calming your fears…I do not make my own dough. I know, I’m lazy. But I do not believe I could make puff pastry any better than Pepperidge farm and honestly neither can you. It has been perfected and we should all accept its glorious existence. It isn’t the cheapest so I don’t make these pastelitos all the time, but there is usually a coupon in the box so they’re helping you out a bit.
I made two different types this time around: guava and meat. The filling for the meat pastries came from my picadillo recipe. About one serving of the meat made twelve pastelitos. I took the one serving of meet and put in a frying pan on medium heat to dry it out a bit. I used a wisk to break it up and make sure there were no big pieces of ground beef as this makes it harder to fit in the pastelito. Once it was dried out a little, I removed the meat from the pan and fut it on a paper towel lined plate to make sure there was no leftover grease as this can make the pastelitos soggy.
The guava pastelito is made from guava paste. Guava is a fruit that has a strawberry-ish taste to it but not quite as sweet. It’s juice is boiled with sugar to create the paste we’re using. Who doesn’t love some sugar with their fruit? I can usually find the paste at Walmart or a Latin grocery. The regular grocery stores (i.e. Publix, Kroger) in Alabama, DC, and Indiana have never carried it so a special trip is needed and totally worth the effort.
1. You’ll want to follow the puff pastry instructions for defrosting as the sheets have to soften before dealing with them. This usually involves letting them sit out on the counter for a while before working with them
2. Once they’re soft you can flatten them and roll them out a little bit to make some room. You’re going to want room for 12 pastries on each sheet. You can score the sheet to help you figure out if you have enough room
3. For the guava pastries I use a 1/2 in cube for each one and the meat is a little less than a tablespoon.
4. Next, you’ll outline each square with egg wash (1 egg scrambled with 1 tbsp water)
5. Carefully lay the second sheet on top and press into the egg washed shape
6. You can use a knife, pizza cutter, or one of these ravioli cutters to cut out each individual pastry. Obviously, it does not need to be perfect as you can see in my picture. Just do your best and everything will be alright.
7. Crimp the edges with your fingers or a fork or whatever you can find. You just need them to be as closed as possible. Place each pastry on a cookie sheet sprayed with a bit of oil.
8. Use a spoon or kitchen brush to brush more egg wash over the top of each pastry. This will allow the pastries to become golden as they cook and look oh so beautiful. You can also sprinkle some sugar over them before they go in the oven. I opted to powdered sugar when they were all done.
9. Cook on 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes. Keep an eye on them because I’ve noticed a cooking time difference depending on which oven I’m using.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on an iron rack. Enjoy until you can’t eat anymore!
The guava pastelitos are so so so good for breakfast, but you can make them even better. Adding a small dollop of cream cheese on top of the guava before closing up the pastries makes for an even better breakfast with cuban coffee. Trust me.