For Shavuot this year, I wanted to shake things up and try something unique. I was first introduced to this unusual combination of flavors at a little place in Matthews called Go Go Empanadas whose Colombian-style empanadas run the gamut from savory to sweet and everything in between (including this one!). I decided to give their guava/cheese empanada a try several years ago and was not disappointed. In a way the flavor is similar to other classic sweet/cheese combinations such as strawberry cheesecake, membrillo (quince paste) with Manchego cheese or honey with goat cheese, but this one has a tropical flair that makes it unique. If you have never tried guava jam, now is a great time!
When looking at the ingredients we can use to make this dish, there are several options. First, for the dough, I experimented with empanada discs, but in the end much preferred a regular refrigerated pie crust for a richer, more tender crumb. When it comes to the cheese, I settled on a mixture of crumbled queso fresco and ricotta, to offer both the creaminess of the ricotta and the saltiness of the queso. Cream cheese or any crumbly cheese are also options. Finally, guava paste or jam can be found in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores and is sometimes sold as a flat brick that can be sliced, similar to quince paste. As far as quantities, this recipe can be easily adapted to the amount you need.
These little pastries would be great as appetizers or as part of a dinner party buffet. They also make a great breakfast.
Guava Cheese Empanadas
Makes 12 pastries
- ¾ cup whole milk ricotta (Food Lion brand is the one I prefer!)
- ½ cup crumbled queso fresco
- 2 rolls of pie crust
- 12 1×1-inch slices of guava paste
Preheat oven to 350F. In a small bowl, mix the two cheeses and blend well. Unroll the pie dough and cut into 12 4-inch circles. At the center of each circle, place a tablespoon of jam or a 1-inch slice of guava paste and a tablespoon of cheese. Fold one side over the other and crimp the edges to make a secure, half moon shape. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until nicely browned.
Charlotte Rouchouze, PhD is a local French teacher, food blogger, and beaded jewelry designer. Her blog about food traditions from around the world can be found at www.thechildrenstable.com. Contact her at [email protected].