Laurel Almerinda is the pastry chef at Cassia and oversees pastry operations for Huckleberry and Milo & Olive, together with co-owner Zoe Nathan. The recently opened Cassia blends the cuisines of Southeast Asia together with a California sensibility for fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
This week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, we caught up with Laurel as she was shopping for pineapple guavas. The recent appointment gives her special license to experiment with tropical fruits to complement the menu at Cassia.
One seasonal, new item on her dessert menu for Cassia stars the pineapple guava. She begins by making a pineapple guava butter (recipe below), which she uses to fill fried, multigrain beignets, served together with crème fraîche ice cream and strawberry compote.
How to pick pineapple guava: Laurel says the key is to leave them out at room temperature to ripen for a few days before using them. Check that they’re soft to the touch, and that you can easily smell their fragrance. When you cut them open, their flesh should be be almost translucent, rather than opaque.
Pineapple Guava Butter
Yields 1 pint
4 lbs pineapple guava, ends trimmed
4 cups sugar
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup lime juice
Trim the ends off the guava, quarter and coarsely slice. Put all of the ingredients into a non-reactive pot and heat gently until the juices begin to flow from the fruit.
Then bring everything to a boil and simmer for 15–20 minutes, or until your thermometer reaches 220ºF. The guava won’t break down completely, but will instead become translucent. The mixture will thicken to become similar in consistency to maple syrup.
Remove from heat and purée with an immersion blender. Press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. For a more rustic compote, skip the puréeing and straining.
The finished pineapple guava butter can be either jarred or refrigerated and use within two weeks.