I just love the Goya website. Chances are you have seen Goya products before in your local supermarket, usually found in the “ethnic” or “Hispanic Foods” aisle. If there is a Latin market in your area, they probably carry a more extensive line of Goya products. I didn’t realize just how many Goya products there are until I visited their website! And on top of that, you’ll find a crash course in regional Latin cooking. Lots and lots of recipes can be found on the website that are organized not only by course, but also by country. I’ve always been intrigued by the long bar of guava paste that I would see at the grocery store in the Goya section, but was unsure of what to use it for. The first time I ever saw someone use Goya guava paste was at the home of a very dear and long time friend. My friend is Puerto Rican and she told me that when she was growing up, they would eat slices of guava paste with Gouda cheese on crackers. The crackers that she always had at her house kind of look and taste like huge oyster crackers. My friend recently moved out of state, but among other things, she definitely got me hooked on this wonderful combination. I have fond memories of the two of us on many a Friday night, sitting at her kitchen table playing cards while we snacked on a plate of Gouda cheese, slices of guava paste and her favorite crackers. A month or so ago, I was at the grocery store and decided to buy some Goya guava paste. It’s been sitting in my cabinet and last Saturday night, I decided to try making Guava Empanadas. Turns out they were pretty easy and oh so good! They are not especially sweet, and that is partly why they are so perfect with a cup of strong coffee. I did drizzle mine with a glaze of powdered sugar, milk and almond extract. I don’t think that is necessarily traditional or authentic, but my husband and I ended up liking the glazed empanadas better than the unglazed.
Fill a glass with ice and water and set it aside. Stir together 2 1/4 c. flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut into the dry mixture a very cold stick of unsalted butter (I stuck mine in the freezer for a few minutes). You want the end result to be free of large chunks of butter, nothing bigger than a half of a pea or so. I used a pastry cutter to cut the butter in, but a couple forks would probably work too. Make a well in the mixture and stir in one beaten egg. Then, add the ice water tablespoon by tablespoon until you have a dough coming together that is not too dry, but not too sticky. I think I ended up adding 5 – 6 T. of ice water. Pat the dough into a nice big round and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for about an hour.
Separate the dough into about 10 round pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a round circle (approximately 5 or 6 inches in diameter). In the middle of the round, place a nice slice of Goya guava paste (about a half inch thick) and an equally sized slice of cream cheese off of an 8 oz. brick. Fold the dough over and pinch and seal the edges closed with your fingers. Then, crimp around the sealed edge with a fork. It will look kind of like a half moon shape. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Baking and Glazing:
Bake the empanadas on a greased baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to be golden brown on the bottom and maybe a little around the edges. By the way, empanadas, whether savory or sweet, are often deep fried. These could be too, but baking them came out just fine, with less fat and mess. While the empanadas are baking, whisk together about 1 c. powdered sugar, 2 T. milk, 3/4 tsp. almond extract. The glaze will be pretty runny and thin. When the empanadas come out of the oven, drizzle the glaze over the tops of them. A lot of the glaze will seep around the edges and underneath, which is fine. Once they have cooled, give them a second glazing.
Take it from me, these are even better the next morning with a hot cup of strong coffee and cream!