Sunday mornings meant a box of pastelitos that my father would pick up at the local Cuban bakery, and the Sunday paper. We'd each claim our favorite section of the paper, and reach into the box for a pastry. Ahh . . . those pastries . . . flaky . . . still warm from the oven . . . oozing guava filling . . . By the time we'd finish the paper, there would be pastry flakes all over everything.
Then, it was time to discuss the morning's news . . . I'll never again be able to eat a pastelito without thinking of Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister of Great Britain. My family rehashed the entire Falkland Islands War in the early 80's over a box of pastries . . .
We no longer have a Cuban bakery nearby, so I've learned to make the pastries myself - surprisingly easy after discovering frozen puff pastry! Here are the ingredients: 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water, 1 box of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, 1 can of guava paste and 1 egg. Most Hispanic markets carry guava paste. Goya is a popular brand. I like either Goya or Conchita.
Make a light syrup using 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water . . . Set aside to cool . . .
Butter a cookie sheet or use a vegetable oil spray. Don't use one of your good cookie sheets, this one will get messy . . .
Prepare an egg wash using 1 egg and 2 tablespoons of water . . . Set aside . . .
Open up the can of guava paste . . .
It looks somewhat like jellied cranberry sauce, but it's much firmer . . .
Cut into the paste . . .
Dig out that first slice. The first couple of slices can be messy and uneven. That's O.K., just keep going . . .
They won't go to waste anyway . . . Mmm . . .
Keep cutting slices out and lay them on a cutting board . . .
Use the lid to close the can back up. I then put the whole thing inside a Ziplog bag and it lasts for weeks in the refrigerator . . .
Cut the guava paste slices in pieces about one-inch long . . .
Defrost the puff pastry overnight in the refrigerator. Unroll the two sheets and place one on top of the other . . .
First, cut in thirds along the creases. Then cut in quarters across . . .
This is more or less what you need to end up with . . .
Separate the top and bottom piece. Place a piece of guava paste in the center of the bottom piece. Moisten the edges with water.
Cover with the top piece and crimp the edges so they seal well . . .
Place in the cookie sheet and repeat with the remaining pieces . . .
Work moderately quickly so the puff pastry doesn't get too warm. When it's warm, it gets sticky . . .
Brush the pastries with the egg wash . . .
Place in the oven, pre-heated to 350° F, for about 25 minutes until golden brown . . .
Remove from the oven. Brush the tops with the simple syrup and put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes. The syrup will caramelize the tops . . .
WARNING: The guava paste is extremely hot when it comes out of the oven!!! Let the pastelitos cool for at least 15 minutes before attempting to eat one! I know it'll be hard, but you can do it!!!
Now, go ahead, invite England's Prime Minister to tea, if you like . . .
Or the President of the United States . . .
Maybe a nice pastry like this would improve his day . . .