Beach Read

Two Lovers: An Ode to Guava & Cream Cheese

Claire Dinhut
November 14, 2023

The first time I tried guava and cream cheese in a singular bite, I was transported. It’s cool and creamy, salty yet sticky, sweet and fruity—all at the same time. My mom’s best friend is Cuban, which meant I grew up eating a lot of pastelitos de guayaba y queso (and plátanos, but that’s for another time). Pastelitos, or little pastries, can be found at every Cuban coffee shop in Miami. Although they can be filled with differing savory and sweet fillings, the word is almost synonymous with guava and cream cheese, for good reason.

If Proust had been born in Havana, his famous madeleine would’ve likely been a pastelito de guayaba y queso...

A Little Bite of History

The guava-cream-cheese pastelito combines a multitude of cultures. The pastry reflects European baked goods’ influence in the Caribbean, while its two fillings each have distinct stories themselves.

Guava is native to Central America and the Caribbean and can be white or pink, except in the case of guava paste, which always uses the latter. The fruit was spread to other regions by the Spaniards and the Portuguese and is enjoyed in many tropical climates. Like quince and apple, guava contains an enormous amount of pectin, which, when mixed with sugar and reduced down, solidifies easily to form a delicious, chewy and firm paste. For Cuban exiles, guava paste is a nostalgic taste of a distant island, but one which they brought with them to the other side of the Florida Straits.

The cream cheese is evidence of America’s influence on the island. Sandwiched between the Spanish American War and the Cuban Revolution, Cuba was subjected to the politics, culture, and products of American Imperialism, including Philadelphia cream cheese. This velvety, tangy spread, in particular, was an instant hit. A Kraft factory was even built on the island to keep up with the demand. Once Fidel Castro took over Cuba and its citizens began arriving in Miami, they brought their memories and recipes, pastelitos included, along with them.

The Cuban puff pastry was solely guava-filled back then, but a Miami baker with a penchant for cream cheese decided to combine them. Although we learn about symbiosis in science class, no one teaches us how important “symbiosis” is in cuisine. Without cream cheese, guava paste is cloyingly sweet, and without guava, well, the cream cheese is just plain cream cheese.

The pastelito de guayaba y queso is the most famous use of this combination but I can assure you, the sky’s the limit with this duo.

At Home

First, you’ll need to get your two key ingredients. Guava jam can be found at most grocery stores in Miami and the cream cheese is just your average, run of the mill cream cheese. Personally, I’m quite partial to the classic Philadelphia. 

1. Mix in an equal ratio (½ cup guava jam and ½ cup cream cheese) and you’re ready to go.

2. Once you have your guava-cream-cheese mixture, you can make a pastelito with store-bought puff pastry, or homemade if you’re feeling inspired. Cut your puff pastry into a square, add in your filling, and then fold it in half into a triangle.

3. Brush with egg wash and bake until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown.

You can also enjoy casquitos de guayaba— halved, candied guava shells filled with sweet guava syrup alongside a dollop of cream cheese. The shells with their syrup are available in the canned section of certain grocery stores.

You can also…

• Spread your mixture on toast, pancakes, waffles, and bagels. 

• Plop some in ice cream, or incorporate into a layered cake (just add guava jam to any cream cheese frosting). 

• Swirl into some blondies, cheesecake or thumbprint cookies.

• Last but most certainly not least, if you’re like me, the perfect vessel for this condiment combination is the humble spoon.


In Miami

Azucar Ice Cream on Calle Ocho

Get the Abuela Maria Ice Cream flavor which adds cream cheese and a guava swirl to the classic Maria sugar cookie.

Pastelmania, Vicky Bakery, Gilbert’s, Pinecrest Bakery etc. and literally every single gas station

Guava and cheese pastelito is the right order.

Islas Canarias

Try their guava and cheese deditos


A pastelito and cafecito at La Ventanita is my dream Miami morning and should be yours too. 

El Brazo Fuerte Bakery

Pastelitos again, but in a French-Cuban pastry shop.

La Carreta

Guava cheesecake (and they even make a guava BBQ sauce for their chicken which is unbelievable)

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