These Guava and Cheese Pasteles Couldn't Be Flakier

Paola Velez makes the sweet and tangy pastries on this week’s episode of Pastries with Paola.

Guava and Cheese Hand Pies
Photo: Photo by Greg DuPree / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Few things are as satisfying as taking a bite of a fresh-out-of-the-oven baked good—especially if it's encased in shatteringly crisp pastry. And on this week's episode of Pastries with Paola, pastry chef Paola Velez prepares a recipe that checks all the boxes: her Guava and Cheese Pasteles. The treats, which you may also know as pastelillos, pastelitos, or turnovers, feature crispy homemade puff pastry stuffed with whipped cream cheese and guava paste.

"Regardless of what you call these delicious guava-and-cheese-filled fun bites, these hand pies are going to be a joy to make," Paola says.

The key to these pasteles is the dough, which is packed with butter and goes through several stages of rolling, folding, and refrigerating to form layers. Once baked, those layers will turn into ultra-flaky puff pastry, a perfect contrast to the creamy filling inside. It's a lengthy process, and you're welcome to use store-bought puff pastry instead if you'd like. But we promise, the pay-off for making it from scratch is delicious.

Read on for Paola's method and follow along with the video below so you can make the pasteles at home.

Spread the Butter

First, grab your softened butter and plop it onto a 9x13-inch parchment paper sheet. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top. Roll it out so the butter forms a rectangle that's about 12 by six inches. Then, place the parchment-covered butter on a rimmed baking sheet and let it hang out in the fridge for about an hour until it gets cold.

Start the Dough

Next, it's puff pastry time. You can either do as Paola does in this episode and use a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook to form the dough, or simply stir the ingredients together in a bowl. Either way, you'll need all-purpose flour, kosher salt, and water. Once the dough has formed a smooth ball, cover the bowl and let the dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Fold, Fold, Fold!

Once the dough has rested, roll it out on a lightly floured work surface into a 12x6-inch rectangle. Peel the parchment paper off the butter and place the butter in the center of the dough, lining up the short sides of the butter with the short sides of the dough. Then, fold the dough flaps over the butter, and smack it with a rolling pin to seal the butter in. Gently roll the dough-encased butter out so it's 12 inches long, and then fold the dough into thirds. Wrap it in plastic wrap—or back in the butter parchment paper, like Paola does—and refrigerate. You'll need to do this process five more times, but it'll be well-worth it, since you're creating tons of flaky layers.

Cut and Fill

After you've repeated the folding step for the fifth time, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. Then, roll it out one more time to form a 12x12 inch square, and cut the dough into 16 3x3-inch squares. Refrigerate them until you're ready to fill them, and then grab the final ingredients—the beaten egg for your egg wash, the whipped cream cheese, the guava paste, and the granulated sugar, if using. Take one pastry square and add some cream cheese and guava paste in the center, brushing the edges of the square with egg wash. Then, place a second pastry square on top of the filling and use a fork to crimp the edges and seal the squares together. Grab a small, sharp knife and cut an "x" in the top of each pastry for ventilation.

Get the pastries on a parchment-lined baking sheet (spaced evenly apart), cover them, and refrigerate for a final time so the butter in the dough is nice and cold. Then, brush them with egg wash, sprinkle on the granulated sugar if you're using it, and get ready to bake.

Bake and Enjoy

After the sugar goes on, bake the pasteles in a preheated 400°F oven. They should come out of the oven crispy, puffed, and golden brown. You may be tempted to take a bite right away, but give them 30 minutes to cool down first. Then, those creamy, tangy, sweet treats are all yours.

"Oh my god," Paola says after trying one. "This is fantastic."

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