One of the first things I do when I’m in Miami is pick up a guava pastelito. Buttery, sweet and flaky, this tropical pastry always hits the spot. It is especially delicious with coffee.
If you can’t make it out to Miami but still want to enjoy luscious pastelitos you can make them at home. How? You really only need a handful of ingredients and a hot oven. Here’s the lowdown:
How to Make Pastelitos
Pastelitos, also known as pastelillos in some parts of the Caribbean, are named after the Spanish word for cakes (the suffix 'ito' indicates they are small). But they aren’t cakes at all, in fact, they are pastries.
Most often, pastelitos are made with puff pastry but they may also be made with empanada dough depending on the country of origin.
The Cuban-style pastelitos popular in Miami are triangular in shape just like traditional turnovers and are stuffed with guava paste or a combination of guava and cream cheese.
Just a leap across the Caribbean Sea the same pastelitos take on a different look and name in Puerto Rico. They are called pastelillos and are square in shape, filled only with guava paste, and dusted with powdered sugar once cooled.
Rose Y. Colón-Singh/FDL
Once you learn how to make pastelitos (or patelillos) you can experiment with what shape and filling you like best. Although guava is the most traditional filling you may also try making pastelitos with mango paste, or similar fruit pastes. Just keep in mind that fruit paste works best here because it holds its shape once it melts (unlike jam).
Depending on where you live guava paste may be found in the international food aisle of your local supermarket or next to the jams and jellies. If not, try a Latin market.
Ingredients for Making Pastelitos
To make pastelitos you'll need:
one box of puff pastry (containing 2 sheets of puff pastry)
simple syrup (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
For triangular pastelitos:
On a dusted surface roll out the sheets of puff pastry with a dusted rolling pin. The idea is to stretch them a bit and flatten them so they lose their folded appearance. Cut each sheet of puff pastry in quarters. Then slice each quarter diagonally.
Place one piece of guava paste and desired amount of cream cheese in the center. Press the edges together and cut a slit a on the top to allow the air to escape.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Optional: you may brush the pastelitos with simple syrup after they come out of the oven. This will give them a nice shine and added sweetness.
For square pastelillos:
It is not necessary to roll out the puff pastry. Instead, use the folded lines to cut each sheet into nice equal slices.
Place a generous slice of guava paste on half of slices of puff pastry. Top with the remaining pieces of dough. Do not flatten or press the edges together.
Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Need a visual? Learn how to make Cuban pastelitos following these helpful instructions from Cooked by Julie:
Here's another fun way to make pastelitos. These are shaped into rectangular logs and yield 18 pieces from one single packet of puff pastry so they'd make great little snacks. C.M. de la Vega shows you how to prepare them and offers great tips on where to find guava paste:
Have questions? We'll help you trouble shoot if you leave a comment below or on Facebook.