A recent purchase here at Flavors of Brazil World Headquarters, a centrifugal juice machine, has resulted in an abundance of tropical fruit juices at the breakfast table. In the past week there has been pineapple juice, mango juice, watermelon juice and probably-the-best-of-the-bunch guava juice.
Guava juice is something unique in the food world. It's color, a shocking pink, is unduplicated by any other fruit juice. The aroma is immediately identifiable - nothing smells like guava. And the texture, just slightly gritty in the way that pears are, completes the experience of drinking a juice like none other.
Here in Fortaleza we're spoiled when it comes to guavas (goiabas in Portuguese), especially at this time of year where they're just coming into season. Last Friday at the farmers market we bought beautiful fragrant guavas for R$2.50 per kilo. The equivalent is approximately USD $0.65 per pound. A bargain at any price, but doubly so when they are so inexpensive.
Guavas, as delicious as they are, are difficult for many people to eat because of the number small and very hard seeds. If you want to eat a fresh guava you have to accept the fact that you'll be swallowing a lot of seeds whole. They are too hard to crunch and too numerous to spit out.
Guavas, in Brazil or outside, are mostly consumed as juice, or eaten in the form of goiabada, a thick paste made from pureed guavas that have been cooked down to thicken them. (Click here for more on goiabada.) To celebrate the guava, here is a wonderful and unbelievably simple recipe for guava crème brûlée. Because it uses goiabada instead of fresh guavas, it's easy to make almost anywhere and any time of year. Goiabada is readily available in any Latin American food market and can also be ordered online. At the same sources you can find creme de leite (called media crema in Spanish). Nestle's is the most common brand. This dessert brings a taste of the tropics to the table even in the middle of the snowiest winter.
RECIPE - Guava Crème Brûlée (Crème Brûlée de Goiabada)
Makes 8 portions
14 oz (400 gr) goiabada paste
2 1/2 cups (600 ml) creme de leite
6 eggs yolks, sieved
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
Put the goiabada in a blender or food processor and blend completely.
Transfer the blended goiabada to a mixing bowl, add the creme de leite and egg yolks and blend well with a whisk or wooden spoon.
Divide the mixture between 8 ramekins or custard cups, place them in a large baking pan, like a lasagne pan, and pour boiling water into the pan to reach halfway up the containers.
Carefully transfer the pan to the preheated oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cup comes out clean. Remove from oven, remove from pan with water and let cool on wire racks.
Can be served as is, at room temperature or chilled. If you wish to make crème brûlées sprinkle a bit of grantulated white sugar on the surface of the custards then burn the sugar under a preheated broiler or with a kitchen blowtorch.
Recipe translated and adapted from Folha de S. Paulo.