Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Repost of Empanaditas de Guayaba

 I decided to re-post this recipe since it always reminds me of Halloween.

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
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
guava paste
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.


  1. Happy Halloween! What a cute story! I think nobody celebrates Halloween like they do in the Midwest!
    I want to try your empanada dough with the cream cheese in it, it sounds so good. I usually put cream cheese in the middle with the guava paste. I am lucky to be able to find guava paste most anywhere even Walmart!

  2. Happy Halloween Lyndsey! I have to do a Walmart run soon to stock up on Cafe Bustelo. As for the guava paste there is only one store here that carries it, so when I run out I go there and stock up.

    I didn't fully understand Halloween 'til I moved up here... the pumpkins, spider webs and harvest moon that are associated with the holiday... you don't see that in Florida!

  3. Love your post!!!! :) will make these over my break :) my halloween is gonna involve scandalous outfits, tons of alcohol, crazy people n Hollywood and tons of clubbing and dancing ha ha. Of course after studying for my chemistry class today :)

  4. Nathan, I can only imagine what your night will be like. I lived in Hollywood back in the '70's. Graduated from Hollywood High on Sunset and Highland. Have Fun. Stay Safe.

  5. I loved your story and felt sorry for your poor mother! I love anything with guava and I'm sure your empanaditas must be delicious but do you think it would be good also to do it with store bought pie dough? Have you ever tried?

  6. Maria, I've never tried it with pie dough, but that certainly would make it simpler. I don't know if the flavor would be the same, but I'm sure it would be good.

    As for my mother, wait 'til you hear about her confusion with Santa Claus and Los Reyes Magos! LOL