Guava and Cheese Bread Pudding

Bey and Jay. PB&J. Platano con salami. They're all iconic duos and pastry chef Paola Velez has one more to add to the canon: guava and cheese. This classic flavor combo takes a star turn in a dessert that Velez describes as "if flan and bread pudding had a baby, and it's delicious." This particular budin de pan recipe—which Velez calls "history in a bowl"—originated with Velez's husband's 101-year-old grandmother, and features a lavish custard made with what might seem like an excess of evaporated milk, but makes for an utterly dreamy texture in the final product. Perfecting the homemade caramel portion calls for some close attention and meticulous stirring—Velez notes that even one undissolved grain of sugar may cause the whole mass to solidify—but the reward is sweet and filled with plenty of tropical vibes, especially if you opt for chopped mango on top.

Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
12 hrs 35 mins


For the Pudding Base

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for pan

  • 4 large eggs

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

  • 3 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk

  • 1 (16-ounce) loaf sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • Diced mango, pitaya, and/or dragonfruit, for serving

For the Caramel

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Filling

  • 1 pound cream cheese (two 8-ounce packages), cut into 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1 package (14 ounces) guava paste, cut into 1/2-inch chunks


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a 3-quart metal or ceramic baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter until combined, then add the vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk again, making sure there are no clumps of spices. Whisk in the condensed milk and then the evaporated milk until the custard is smooth.

  2. Add bread cubes to the custard and press with hands to submerge and to ensure every cube is coated in custard. Set aside.

  3. While the bread absorbs the custard, prepare the caramel: In a small saucepan, stir together sugar and water until the mixture resembles wet sand. Heat over medium until the caramel is golden amber, 8 to 10 minutes. (Do not move the pan until the caramel is a very light amber color.) If the sides on the pan are starting to dry out, use a pastry brush dipped in some water to dissolve the crystals. Immediately pour the caramel into the prepared dish, tilting the pan to spread the caramel evenly across the bottom.

  4. Add enough of the soaked bread cubes to cover the bottom of the dish; top evenly with 1/2 of the guava paste and cream cheese chunks. Top with half of the remaining soaked bread, the remaining guava paste, and cream cheese chunks, and a final layer of custard-soaked bread. Ladle over additional custard to fully soak bread; discard any remaining liquid in bowl.

  5. Wrap bread pudding in baking dish with foil; set dish into a large rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Place in the oven and carefully fill the roasting pan halfway with hot water. Bake until the middle of the bread pudding is set, 1 hour 35 to 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove the dish from the water bath and let cool, covered, on a wire rack to room temperature; refrigerate at least 3 hours (and up to overnight).

  6. To serve, run a warm offset spatula or paring knife along the edge of the dish. Invert the bread pudding onto a serving plate and top with fresh fruit. Cut into slices and serve.

    Guava and Cheese Bread Pudding
    Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell
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