Since I learned this recipe directly from my mother, and today is Mother's Day, I thought I would share this story with you.
We arrived in this country in the summer of 1962. One night in late October there was a knock at our door. My mother opened the door to find two boys, dirty and shoeless with their begging hands extended. She quickly ran into the kitchen and retrieved some slices of bread which she tearfully handed to them, blessing them in Spanish and explaining it was all she had to give. Then she sat at the kitchen table to cry.
—What's wrong with you, my teenage uncle asked?
—I didn't know that in this country there was such misery and hunger. Those poor boys!, my mother bawled.
—What? … They're in costume. It's Halloween!
This was new information to absorb. What concept was this? Children going door to door begging for food? The holiday was explained to her by those who had come years earlier. The next year, my mother was prepared. She baked for several hours the night before and wrapped each Empanadita de Guayaba in aluminum foil.
A couple years later when my sister and I were old enough, my grandmother would walk us from house to house, Now remember, she taught us, when the door opens you say the magic words "Treeco Tree Alloween!" Years later we realized the magic words were "Trick or Treat Halloween;" nevertheless, be they in English or Spanglish, we never got a treat as good as our mother's Empanaditas de Guayaba.
The ingredients for this recipe are few, but it is time consuming. You have been warned.
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter or margarine (please note, I had erroneous written 1 cup and have fixed it to 1/2, sorry for those of you who may have tried this with the wrong measurement, if it worked then yay! The picture is correct)
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 egg beaten
Let the cream cheese and butter soften. Add the flour and mix together. Use your hands to knead into a ball and refrigerate for a couple of hours. It will be crumbly at first and you will think that I was off my rocker with the measurements, but keep kneading it, it will come together.
Cut up the guava paste into small pieces. (If you've never heard of it or cannot find it where you are, then you can Americanize this recipe with any other kind of fruit paste or jam).
Take a small portion of your dough and roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 1/8 of an inch or thinner. I know you don't have a ruler in the kitchen and it is ridiculous to try to figure out, so thinner than pie dough will suffice. You can use a cookie cutter or a drinking glass will work well also to form round shapes. Place one piece of guava in the center and fold over. Press the edges closed with a fork. Repeat this process. Put a layer of egg wash over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (check on them, I don't use a timer and ovens are temperamental). Warning: Filling is hot! Let them cool before you try them.