One of the great treats of the tropical world is Guava Paste, also know as Pasta de Guayaba. The fruit is cooked down with sugar, pectin and citric acid to make a jam so thick you cut it with a knife. It is so similar in style and use to Membrillo or Quince Paste that I’m sure it’s a result of a tropical solution of those living in colonial Spain who were homesick for their treat. Or maybe it is an indigenous tropical treat that was tweaked by returning Spaniards who discovered the Quince was more delicious cooked into a thick jam than any other preparation. Either way, I just found another amazing thick sweet really unusual product that joins this family of ‘pastes”. It is the Argentine Dulce de Batata or Sweet Potato paste. I found it at El Gaucho, the argentine market and butcher on Manhattan Beach Blvd at Hawthorne. Amazing stuff really. The sweet potato flavor in such a super sweet jammy texture is unusual and addicting.
All of these pastes are made famously into pastries combined with fresh cheese. So you get the sweet, creamy, maybe slightly salty goodness wrapped up in a dough.
With not enough energy in me to make a full on pie I decided to make the Turnover or Hand Pie. I always have scraps of dough hanging around and since my mom is the queen of cream cheese there is always a supply of the creamy stuff. I rolled out some scraps of dough, plopped a big spoonful of cream cheese down and topped it with a healthy slice of the Dulce de Batata. I beat an egg with a bit of milk, painted the dough edges and topped the filling with more dough and crimped the edges. Then I brushed the egg wash over the whole pastry. It only needed about 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven to become golden brown, flaky and the perfect slightly sweet late night (or breakfast) treat. Hightly recommended with any kind of thick fruit paste.