I swear I almost choked to death the first time I had Pastelillos de Guayaba (pahs-tay-LEE-yos de gwa-YA-bah). Bakeries in Puerto Rico and NYC love to douse these guava turnovers with an obscene amount of powdered sugar. You’re going to inhale it and choke. It’s so amazing. And it’s worth choking on because the taste-reward outweighs the sugar-induced pneumonia. This puff pastry recipe I shared last week is begging for you to fill it with guava paste. So, let me show you how!
This post is an updated version of one I published in October 2019. The recipe and instructions are the same.
What are Pastelillos de Guayaba?
In Puerto Rico Pastelillos de Guayaba the equivalent of an apple danish in the States. They’re eaten in the morning or afternoon with a hot cup of café con leche. Guava paste- made thick from slowly boiling guava pulp- is wrapped in flaky, buttery puff pastry and baked until golden. The pastries are then finished with a deluge of powdered sugar. Pastelillos de guayaba are going to be the easiest pastry you’ve ever made. They will also be the best-tasting pastry you’ve ever eaten. Millions of Puerto Ricans can’t be wrong.
What do you need to make Pastelillos de Guayaba?
The only ingredients you may need to shop for are the guava paste (this is an old image, and I no longer recommend the brand in the photo). If you just can’t bring yourself to make Puff Pastry from scratch– a box of frozen puff pastry sheets. The other ingredients you, probably, already have: one large egg and a cup or cup and a half of powdered sugar. How badly you want to cough will determine how much sugar you’ll use. I jest! I kid! Probably I’m serious.
Some equipment you will need is: a rolling pin, a half sheet pan, parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, a pastry brush, and a sifter.
Can I use store-bought puff pastry to make Pastelillos de Guayaba?
Yes. Most bakeries actually use a pre-made frozen puff pastry to make their pastelillos de guayaba so why can’t you? Pepperidge Farm sells puff pastry in the frozen dessert section. If I don’t have homemade puff pastry, that’s the brand that I always use.
I recommend making these pastries completely from scratch at least once, though. The homemade puff pastry is so much better than the pre-made stuff. I promise. But, no matter what, don’t feel guilty if you take help from the store.
Guava Paste: what it is and where to find it
I briefly mentioned that guava paste- or pasta de guayaba– is the concentrated, sticky product of slowly boiling pineapple guava pulp (feijoa) and sugar. Guava has a sweet-tart flavor to it. I’m hard-pressed to find anything to compare it to, so you’re going to have to be adventurous and try it for yourself. Folks in Brazil, Spain, countries in the Caribbean- my beloved Puerto Rico, included- and many other Latin American countries, typically serve this jam-like confection with a white cheese. Pastelillos de Guayaba are just the tip of the guava-iceberg as far as ways to use this paste. But, since this is one the easier recipes, we’ll start with it. I’ve always had success finding guava paste in Hispanic, African, or Indian markets. Finding it may be a challenge if you live in very rural areas with no Hispanic population, though. When in doubt- head to Amazon.
Guava paste is sold in many forms- pressed into round cakes in tin or plastic containers, or molded into bricks. It resembles membrillo or quince paste, only its blood-red in appearance instead of a coral color. Watch that you don’t mistakenly pick up guava jelly instead of the paste, though. The consistency is way different and won’t yield the same delicious results.
To prep the guava: just slice the paste a 1/2″ thick. Because it gives me more consistent slices, I buy the bricks for this recipe. Unfortunately, this time, round was the only option in the store. Wah-wah. Set the guava aside while you roll out your puff pastry.
How big do I roll out the puff pastry dough
Roll the puff pastry dough out into a large rectangle. Leave the dough about a 1/4″ thick. I’m super “extra” (this shouldn’t surprise you), so I roll mine out in a 20″x 14″ rectangle. Then I pull out my ruler, which is dedicated to measuring and getting precise cuts in the kitchen, to cut 3″x 6″ rectangles to get very sharp edges. Why? Because, “extra”, that’s why. However you want to cut and measure, do you. Just try to keep the cuts big enough to fit your guava paste. And make sure to use the sharpest knife you own. The puff pastry needs to be cut straight down- not sawed through- or the puff pastry layers will get stuck together and fail to rise properly in the oven.
Place a slice of guava paste on to one side of the puff pastry rectangle. Leave a 1/2″-3/4″ margin for sealing the pastelillos de guayaba. Once your rectangles are all guava-fied, use your pastry brush to brush a small amount of egg wash (1 tablespoon of cold water whisked with one egg yolk) in the margin.
Can I add cheese to this recipe?
To turn these pastelillos de guayaba into pastelillos de guayaba y/con queso, cut batons of cream cheese into the same size of the guava paste. Lay the cream cheese on top of the guava paste. My family and I think the guava paste adds the perfect amount of sweetness on its own, but you might want to sprinkle a 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar onto the cream cheese layer.
Fold the puff pastry rectangle in half to cover the guava paste and press down with your finger to seal the edges together.
Tips for flaky layers of puff pastry
Transfer your sealed pastelillos de guayaba to a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the pastelillos on the sheet pan- leaving at least one inch between each pastry. You may need to bake these in batches to avoid crowding your sheet pan and causing them to steam instead of bake. If you do need to bake more than one batch, keep the unbaked pastelillos in the refrigerator while you bake the first batch.
Brush a light glaze of the egg wash over the tops of each pastelillo. Be careful not to brush too much egg wash onto them or it could run off the sides and prevent the puff pastry from rising. When the egg wash runs over the sides, it causes the puff pastry layers to stick together, so they don’t rise as high.
Make sure the oven is at the correct temperature. That hits the pastry with a high blast of heat which helps it rise nice and high.
How long do I bake the guava pastries?
Pop the sheet pan into an oven that’s been preheated to 400°F. Bake the pastelillos de guayaba for 20 minutes, or until puffy, flaky, and golden brown.
Once they’re done baking, carefully transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. At this point, bake any other batches while the first batch cools. It’s important to let the pastelillos cool completely before dusting them. The powdered sugar will turn to a pasty, gloopy mess if you dust them while they’re hot.
How do I serve pastelillos de guayaba?
After all the baking is done and the pastelillos de guayaba are totally cool- sift, damn it! Sift until you can’t sift no’ mo’!!! Pastelillos get a generous sprinkle of powdered sugar.
I’m talking go to town with the sugar. Typically, there’s enough sugar on them to make you choke when you inhale it. If you don’t like tons of sugar, sprinkle as little as you want. You can also mix a teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the powdered sugar before sprinkling for another twist on flavor.
You can also omit the sugar and brush the glaze from these Quesitos on them instead. I don’t ever serve them without a glaze or sprinkle of sugar. The flavor will only be slightly sweet without a sugar topping of some kind. But they will taste great without tons of sugar.
Besides the sugar, we serve these pastries with café con leche, orange juice, or milk.
How do I store leftover pastelillos de guayaba?
Pastelillos de guayaba can be covered in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. They never last more than a couple of days, but any more than two days and the pastry will lose its flakiness.
You can freeze baked and cooled pastries, but do that before you dust them in sugar. Just transfer them to a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw them at room temperature on the counter. You might want to pop them in the toaster oven for 5 minutes to regain that crispiness. Don’t forget to sugar them, too!
There’s no better way to enjoy these Pastelillos de Guayaba than with a warm mug of café con leche or milk. Just be careful not to inhale too much sugar.
Enjoy one of my favorite Puerto Rican pastries and be sure to pin and share the recipe with your friends and family!
Pastelillos de Guayaba (Guava Turnovers)
- rolling pin
- pastry brush
- half or full sheet pan
For the Egg Wash
- 1 large egg yolk separated and white discarded (or save for another recipe)
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) water
For the Pastelillos de Guayaba
- 8 ounces (320 grams) guava paste (not jelly)
- 1 pound (490 grams) Puff Pastry (homemade or 17 oz package of frozen puff pastry, thawed)
- 1 cup (125 grams) powdered sugar (icing sugar) for topping, optional
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line one or two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Prep the Egg Wash and Guava Paste
- Whisk together the egg yolk and water to create the egg wash. Set aside.
- Slice the paste a 1/2" thick by 2"-2 1/2" long, then set the guava aside while you roll out your puff pastry.
Roll out and Fill the Puff Pastry Dough
- Use a heavy rolling pin to roll the puff pastry dough out into a large rectangle- approximately 10"x7" if using two puff pastry sheets, or 20"x 14" if using homemade puff pastry.
- Use a very sharp knife to cut the puff pastry into 3"x 6" rectangles. Cut straight down, don't saw through the dough, or the puff pastry layers will get stuck together and won't rise properly in the oven.
- Place a slice of guava paste on one side of the puff pastry rectangle, leaving a 1/2"-3/4" margin. Lightly brush a small amount of the egg wash in the margin you left between the slice of guava and the edge of the dough.
- Fold the puff pastry rectangle in half to cover the guava paste and press down with your finger to seal the edges together.
Bake, then Sugar the Pastelillos de Guayaba
- Transfer your sealed pastelillos de guayaba to the prepared sheet pan leaving at least 1" between each pastry. Brush a light glaze of the egg wash over the tops of each pastelillo. Be careful not to brush too much egg wash or it could run off the sides and prevent layers of the puff pastry from rising.
- Bake the pastelillos de guayaba for 20 minutes, or until puffy, flaky, and golden brown.Once baked, carefully transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Sift a generous amount of powdered sugar over the pastries after they've cooled completely. The pastries can also be left plain.
- Enjoy the pastelillos de guayaba with café con leche or your beverage of choice.
For Pastelillos de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cream Cheese Turnovers):
- Cut 2-inch long x 1-inch wide batons of room temperature cream cheese.
- Arrange the cheese on top of the guava paste.
- Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar over the cream cheese if you prefer a sweeter pastry.
- Fold and bake as instructed above.
Tips and Tricks:
- If you have a small pan, bake the pastelillos in batches of six. Keep the unbaked pastelillos in the refrigerator while you bake the first batch.
Bake any other batches while subsequent batches are cooling.
- Take care not to brush too much egg wash onto them or it could run off the sides and prevent the puff pastry from rising. When the egg wash runs over the sides, it causes the puff pastry layers to stick together, so they don't rise as high.
- Make sure the oven is at the correct temperature. That hits the pastry with a high blast of heat which helps it rise nice and high.
- Store the pastries covered in plastic wrap at room temperature. Enjoy them within two days of baking, or the pastry will lose its flakiness.
- Freeze the pastelillos de guayaba before dusting in sugar, but after they're completely cool.
Transfer them to a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw them at room temperature on the counter. Reheat the thawed pastries in the toaster oven for 5 minutes to regain that crispiness, then dust with sugar.