A True Culinary Adventure: Guava and Cheese Pastry

GuavaCheesePastry.TheCubanReuben.comA few weeks ago, my friend and editor of The Nosher, Shannon, came to visit. We planned to spend some time together visiting, cooking, and bridging the gaps within our relationship that had developed via email and online correspondence. It was so nice to meet Shannon in person, and we quickly realized we had lots in common.

When Shannon asked me what she could bring to our gathering, I suggested she stop at my all-time favorite bakery, Porto’s, to pick up my #1 treat: Guava and Cheese Pastries, which Porto’s accurately calls, “Refugiados,” or “Refugees.” I’ve explained in the past that I think this is the perfect name for these strudels, because one bite of these babies transports any Cuban-native right back to their motherland!  But for my culinary adventure with Shannon, I had big plans for this batch.

This pastry works great regular-sized or in the 2-bite variety.

Since I no longer live particularly close to this bakery, I decided that under Shannon’s watchful eye, I would attempt to duplicate the guava and cheese magic at home. Fear not, loyal Porto’s fans… I still plan to buy them when I’m in the area, but for the 95% of the time that I am not, I thought it’d be a good idea for me to learn to make them myself. The good news? They’re SUPER simple to make! The bad news? They’re SUPER simple to make!

Taste Test. TheCubanReuben.com
Evidence of our official taste test. Can you tell which is which?

Although I love to cook, I’ve never believed baking to be my strength in the kitchen. Sure, I can hold my own with a few cakes and breads, but a baker I am not (at least, not yet). Shannon, on the other hand, has proven herself to be a baking maven, and I was so thankful she were here during my big experiment. She suggested alternative tips and tricks to help me master this dish, and in the end, our official taste-testers had a very difficult time telling the difference between the original and the home-made version.

Shannon gets close for an official kitchen selfie.

To Shannon, I am thrilled that our mutual love of food and blogging brought us together, and am immensely thankful for the opportunity to be a contributor to The Nosher. You’re welcome to visit anytime!


*I do hear from time to time that some of the more authentically Cuban ingredients I use are sometimes hard to find. If you have a hard time finding guava paste at your local international market, know that it is easy to find online. Here’s a link to a Kosher variety.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Guava and Cheese Pastry
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Guava and cheese are the stars of the classic Cuban breakfast pastry.
  • 1 Tbs. powdered sugar
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 box of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • 1 8oz bar of cream cheese
  • 1 package of guava paste
  • 1 Tbs. coarse sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Create an egg wash by combining the whisked egg and the water in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Sprinkle powdered sugar on flat surface, and lay out puff pastry dough on top.
  4. Cut dough into 12 equal squares, and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. In the middle of 6 of the squares, add 1 heaping Tbs. of guava paste and top with 1 heaping Tbs. of cream cheese (Note: The amount of filling depends on personal taste). Brush the perimeter of these squares with egg wash.
  6. On the other 6 squares, score the top with 3-4 lines, lengthwise, careful not to slice all the way to the top and bottom of the square. Top the the previous 6 squares. Press edges to seal.
  7. (Optional: You can now add an extra horizontal score on each end of the dough to add in extra puffing).
  8. Brush the top dough with egg wash, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and fully puffed.
  9. Let stand on baking sheet for 3 minutes, and then cool on wire rack.
note: To make mini-pastries, cut each of the 6 squares in 4, and fill accordingly. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until puffed and golden.


Office Eats (2): Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites

Photo by Justin Janowitz
Photo by Justin Janowitz

When Producer Hayley asked me to whip together a simple appetizer that was super yummy and looked impressive for episode 2 of Office Eats on #COIN, I knew just the thing: my Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites. My mom started making ones similar to these for dinner parties long, long ago, and I quickly adopted and adapted them for girls’ night with my friends. They are the epitome of finger foods, and are perfect with a nice glass of wine.

After we shot this episode, Justin Janowitz, our super-talented director of photography (dp), caught me doing a little snappy snap of the camera for my beloved blog. Of course, I knew I wasn’t going to let this fast, fun, and delicious recipe go without featuring it here.

Justin Janowitz’s handiwork, capturing my funny stance during the photo session.

Although I was a little self-conscious of my novice photography skills amongst the company of professionals, I used the opportunity to ask Justin and the rest of the team some questions about shooting and lighting food. After all, it isn’t every day that I have a full production crew in my kitchen!

This is the photo I took during the shot above.

They were quite generous with their advice, and I was able to get some nice shots that I was proud of. I learned a little about styling, lighting, and even a thing or two about my own camera.

Another shot after my impromptu lesson.

And while my photography skills are still novice-level, I’m always happy to learn new tricks of the trade.

Click here to check out the second episode of Office Eats.

Herb and Cheese Cherry Tomato Bites
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 6-8
Prep time:
Total time:
Perfect bite-sized dish for a last-minute party with friends.
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh Italian parsley
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh basil leaves
  • 1 Tbs. fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • ¼ cup cream cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs. chopped pistachios (optional)
  1. Chop the parsley, basil, and oregano, and place in a small bowl. Add the goat cheese, cream cheese, and freshly ground pepper, and stir to combine. Put the cheese/herb mixture in a small ziptop plastic bag, and set aside.
  2. Cut off the tops of the cherry tomatoes, and hallow out the main part (careful not to puncture the skin).
  3. Cut the tip off the plastic bag with the cheese mixture, and pipe the filling into the hallowed tomatoes,
  4. Roll the cheese-exposed part of the tomato in the pistachios, add the top of the tomato back on, and place on platter.
  5. Serve or refrigerate for later.


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