Friday, February 14, 2014
Cinnamon-Rum Guava Delight
Cascos de guayaba con queso crema, or guava shells (halves) in heavy syrup with cream cheese, is a popular treat and simple dessert enjoyed by Cuban families for generations. You can find cans or jars of guava shells at Latino grocery stores, specialty food markets, and sometimes even at large supermarkets in metropolitan areas with a significant Mexican, Caribbean or Latin American population.
I recommend preparing the guavas either early in the morning or the night before to let them "steep" in the refrigerator all day or overnight, and then assembling the dessert right before serving. The spiced guavas will keep for days in the fridge and can also be enjoyed over ice cream, warm brie, cheesecake, bread pudding, sliced pound cake, and even with hot cereals like oatmeal. Although the following recipe serves 4, you can serve two "double-size" servings if you're feeling especially decadent. You can also double the recipe for 8 servings.
1 can large guava shells OR 1 1/2 cups small (Mexican) guava halves
All of the heavy syrup from the canned guava OR 1/2 cup heavy syrup from the jar of small guavas
1/4 cup dark spiced rum (I use Kraken brand)
1 large (at least 2" long) cinnamon stick
1/2 package (8oz) cream cheese
Place all ingredients except the cream cheese in a sauce pan or small pot and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and keeping at a simmer, for 20 to 30 minutes -- the longer the guavas simmer, the deeper the cinnamon flavor will be. (In the photo below, the small Mexican guavas are shown on the left and the larger canned guavas are shown on the right.)
Remove from heat, allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, cut the cream cheese into 4 even slices or 2 large chunks if making only two servings, and place in individual small bowls. Remove cinnamon stick from refrigerated guavas and discard. Spoon spiced guavas and syrup over the cream cheese in the bowls, then serve.