Way before a certain coffee-making empire introduced America to the idea of a $5 cafe au lait, we Latinos were all too familiar with the deliciousness that is a perfectly made café con leche. And the best barista out there will have a tough time coming up with a brew better than Mami’s or Abuela’s. So in honor of the woman (or women) who for years woke up early just to make you breakfast we’re offering two recipes sure to make her Mother’s Day morning extra sweet: Guava-and-cheese pastries (a.k.a Cuban pastelitos de guayaba y queso) and the ultimate Mexican style café con leche, infused with warm and comforting cinnamon. Felicidades to all the hard-working Latina moms out there!
Pastelitos de guayaba y queso con guayaba
7 ounces guava paste
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 T sugar
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup water
1 egg beaten with 1 T water, for egg wash
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. Cut guava into 1/4-inch thick slices and set aside.
3. Prepare the cheese filling: place cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and blend on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolk, vanilla, salt and lemon zest, mixing until just combined. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
4. Make the simple syrup: combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has completely dissolved the syrup is ready. Set aside.
5. Prepare your pastelito assembly station: lightly flour a wood or marble board. Set the sliced guava, the cheese mix, egg wash and the simple syrup within arms reach.
6. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto the board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin, until it’s about a 10-inch by 10-inch square. (Keep the second sheet in the refrigerator while you’re working. It will be easier to handle.) Cut the rolled out sheet into 3-inch squares.
7. Now you’re ready to fill them with either guava alone or a combination of guava and cheese. When it’s guava alone, place a slice or two (depending on how much you like) in the center of a pastry square. Using your finger, coat the borders of the square with egg wash. Top with another square, and press down firmly on the edges so they stick together. (For the guava-and-cheese combination, place about a tablespoon of cheese in the middle of a pastry square and top with half a slice of guava. Again, coat the borders with egg wash. Fold one corner of the square over to create a triangle shape. Seal the edges by firmly pressing down and using more egg wash if needed.)
8. Place pastelitos on the sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry. Refrigerate the filled pastelitos for about 20 minutes.
9. Gently brush the simple syrup over the pastelitos. Bake for about 15 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.
Mexican café con leche
3/4 cup dark roasted coffee made in either an espresso machine or a coffee press (The ideal ratio of coffee grounds to water is 2T of coffee for every 6 oz of water; add or reduce water depending on how strong you like it.)
2 cups whole milk
4 cinnamon sticks
Sugar to taste
1. Make the coffee, preferably using fresh ground coffee beans. (Beans quickly lose flavor once ground.)
2. Combine the milk and 2 of the cinnamon sticks in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Strain milk to remove the thin film on top and the cinnamon sticks.
3. Pour strained milk in to each of two warmed mugs. Divide the coffee between the two mugs. (Or add as much coffee as you like, depending on how strong you like it.) Stir in sugar to taste; garnish with the remaining cinnamon sticks.
BETTY CORTINA, NBC LATINO STAFF
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