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Pastelitos de Guayaba

23 Nov

It wasn’t until I left Miami that I realized not everyone was familiar with such delicacies as churros, pan Cubano, turrón, or even the almighty lechonsito asado. I landed in Louisiana and developed instead a taste for blacked gator, boudin, and mufalletas. Look, there was a good reason I put on 15 lbs living in that state: the food is awesome!

But as good as it was there, and California, and overseas for a while – – it just wasn’t home.

And then, I was let in on a secret–I can make pastelitos in my own kitchen without slaving over phyllo dough!

And now, you can too 😉

Start with a block of guava paste and a thawed box of puff pastry: 20121122-191417.jpg

Open a pastry sheet and lay it out an parchment. I usually roll over it to smooth it out

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Using a pizza cutter, I slice up the dough and cut if the wobbly edges

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Then, add a small slice of guayaba

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Fold and seal the pastries. I recommend using a wet finger or small brush to wet the edges so you get a good seal

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Pop them in the oven as directed on your pastry dough box.

And now comes the hard part – waiting until they’re cool enough to eat and enjoy!

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Thanksgiving Traditions

22 Nov

As the season of eating is upon us, it wouldn’t be right to leave today postless.

But instead of posting a turkey or stuffing recipe, I want to take a second and reflect on what we are today, as Americans.

First and foremost, we are a nation of immigrants. Just about all of us came here from somewhere else-or our ancestors did. And we have some traditions that we’ve adopted into our holiday festivities. It wasn’t until I left Miami that I began to appreciate all the Cuban culture I took for granted. From birthday party foods (what do you mean you don’t have ‘bocadito platters’? What else do you serve at a one year old’s party?) to holiday traditions of lechón, pastelitos, and turrón, food and language represents our strongest ties to our heritage; irrespective of location, these traditions make us feel “at home” even when we’re not.

So I’ll share one tradition I’m starting this year. Pastelitos de guayaba. Made at home. I don’t have time for all the phyllo dough, so I’ll be using puff pastry as a shortcu…errr, ‘substitute’ for the session.

While the pastry thaws (and I get guayaba before the grocery store closes!) I’d like to invite you to share – what are your thanksgiving traditions? If you haven’t made any, what are you waiting for? Start with my pastelitos. Stay tuned for the recipe!

Gluten free cake pops: Completed

29 Sep

So my girlfriend came over this morning to make said attempt at cake pops for Celiac sufferers.

She baked a gluten free cake the night before, using a Betty Crocker mix. She said she must have a mouse in her house because they’d eaten a piece of one of the corners. These mice must be super neat, have opposable thumbs, and access to her cutlery 😉 I have those too.

So, we took her baked cake, cut off the harder edges, and threw it in the mixer. I noticed this cake was denser, and her result wasn’t as crumbly as either one of us expected. I thought this would be great because we wouldn’t need as much frosting to hold it together.

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We spun it right round like a record, baby…. Until it looked like this:

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Not too shabby!

Next, I added about 1/4 cup of cream cheese frosting. It didn’t gel at all. And normally, I like to add spoonfuls at a time, but this was just clearly not enough. I scooped out about another 1/3rd cup and plopped it into the mix, and let the mixer do her job. It worked, and after mixing for a couple of minutes, it turned into the beautiful dough ball it was supposed to:

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From there, we formed the balls by hand, and dipped them in candy coating. The result?

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Her reaction:

These are better than the one I paid for!

Why? Because the texture was smoother than the bakery created one. She thought the bakery version was just compressed gluten free cake into a pop form that had been dipped into candy. The frosting inside the pop made all the difference.

Hope you enjoyed! Keep creating!

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Cake pops for The Gluten Intolerant

28 Sep

My girlfriend of many years thought cake pop mania was the result of some mental defect or silly people who had hysteria for sugar.

And then she had one.

And she wrote to say: OMG TEACH ME HOW TO MAKE THESE YUMMY THINGS!

Like I need a reason to make cake pops!

One complicating factor: she’s gluten intolerant. So gluten free cake mix it is!

I don’t have experience with making gluten free cakes, so-this may be an opportunity for cake pop wrecks. My strategy? Use more frosting. Can’t go wrong with that.

Red Velvet and Nutella Cake Pops

21 Sep

So after the first foray about a year ago into the Cake Pop craze, I’ve continued to make them. Sometimes for fun, sometimes for events, and sometimes, just to see what happens when I go for something a little nutty.

A colleague of mine at work asked me to make cake pops for his birthday. In April. So of course, in September, I was able to fill his request. SORRY FOR THE DELAY SCOTT! But good things come to those who wait. 🙂

Red Velvet. Red Velvet. Red Velvet. I debated for a while what kind of frosting to mix the cake with. Vanilla some offered. Others opined dark chocolate. I thought the vanilla or cream cheese wouldn’t mix evenly enough with the cake, so it would look kinda marbley. And the chocolate – I thought it would overpower the red velvet taste. Then it dawned on me. Nutella. Wonderful in color for red velvet, and tasty without being completely overpowering.

So, it began by baking a regular old red velvet box mix cake.

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After baking and letting it completely cool, I put it back in the mixer to break up. It should look like coffee grounds when done. A quick tip: Cut or break off the crunchy edges after baking and before tossing into a mixer for best results.

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If you’ve ever baked bread using a bread maker, use the same parameters. If it’s sticking to the wall of the bowl as it mixes, you’ve added too much Nutella or frosting. If it’s clumpy but doesn’t stick together, add more Nutella. It’s at the right consistency when it does this:

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Then the fun begins!

I make the cake pops by hand from the mixture, using a tablespoon. Make it into an approximate bite or two size pop. Not too big, or you’ll have problems dipping and getting the chocolate coating off of the pop.

Once you’ve used all the mix and have a tray of cake pop balls, pop them in the fridge for 15 mins to get them to harden up a little.

While they’re hardening, melt down your chocolate. I use a Wilton Candy melter. It was worth 20 bucks not to run to the microwave every few minutes. It melts a bag or so of candy melt at a time. You can get these at your local Michael’s or via Amazon.

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Then, take your pops out of the fridge and grab 6 inch lollipop sticks. Don’t do the 4 inch ones unless you’re making cake pops for Thumbellina. Dip the end of a stick into the chocolate, then put it into a cake pop. The chocolate acts like ‘glue’ holding the cake pop to the stick. (my first recipe I had for pops left out that REALLY F’n important detail. I had a lot of cake in chocolate #fails.) Repeat until you have completed your tray. Put them back in the fridge for 15 mins to harden. (This can be a really long process, and downright impossible if you have demanding young children. You can leave them in the fridge overnight and finish them the following day!)

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When you’re ready, take your pops out of the fridge and start dipping. If your chocolate isn’t running easily, add vegetable oil to the chocolate until it’s the right consistency. Whatever you do, don’t use olive oil!! Yuck!

Dipping is an art. I highly recommend watching several YouTube videos before you start. Again, #lfmf. Wilton has great series to check out. Cake Bot also had a great video tutorial. I recommend these so you can get a picture of what the candy melt of chocolate should look like.

And, once dipped, set them out to dry. I followed Cake Bot’s recommendation and covered some styrofoam. This flower block does double duty though. I cover in tablecloth wrap an use it as my cake pop stand for dessert tables.

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I took them to work the following day. And they were all gone but for one, saved for poor Scott. At least he kept an eye on it until he came back to his desk…..

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