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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Goiabinha (Brazilian guava cookies)

A bit behind my time, but in celebration of the World Cup I thought I'd make something Brazilian.  They do a lot with guava paste and butter cookie dough, and after looking through LOTS of recipes I finally settled on this one.  I like that the dough isn't very sweet -- sort of like a butter pie crust -- which I thought would be a nice contrast to the sweet guava jelly.

These cookies are also called beliscão, or "pinch", for obvious reasons. Seems a little... I dunno... aggressive, for a cookie.  How about "hugs"?  Or "wraps"?  Anyway...

I couldn't find a pre-packaged guava paste such as this one:
or this one:

I ended up buying it in bulk from the fresh serve counter in a Mexican grocery store, but it still contained the seeds and some skins.  (It even still had one whole fruit in it.)  So I melted it down and sieved out the seeds as best I could -- a few got past me -- then let it firm up again in a dish.  A very sticky and messy procedure, I might add. And it ended up a little TOO firm -- even after baking, it still has crisp, clean edges.  (It's supposed to soften and ooze into the space prettily.)

The recipe had to be translated from Portuguese -- although the ingredients seem straightforward, the directions were a little scant.  Therefore I made an executive decision and revised the directions to provide clarification, and in the process changed the sugar types.  (I think sprinkling granulated sugar on cooled cookies will result in a lot of sugar all over the counter and not much else.)

Here's what I used:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar
150 g (10 1/2 tablespoons) cold butter
3+ tablespoons of cool water
150 g (a little less than 1 cup) of firm guava paste
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Cut the guava paste into 36 strips (about 0.4" x 0.25", and about 2.25" long.) In a food processor, pulse the flour with the butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar until evenly crumbly. Sprinkle on the water and pulse again until it forms a smooth dough, adding a little more water if necessary.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough thinly, to about 1/8".  (If it's too soft to work with, shape into disks, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for an hour.)  Cut out discs with a 2 3/4" round cutter, gathering the scraps and repeating until you use all the dough. Arrange a strip of guava in the center of each disc and cover by folding the sides over the guava and pinching together slightly to close.  (Or simply overlap the edges.  Either way, you might need to moisten the edge with a little water if the dough has dried.)  Arrange the cookies on a greased  baking sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the sheets midway.  Let cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Makes 36 cookies.

Conclusion:  Delicious!  A buttery shortbread cookie wrapped around sweet, floral guava.  This is the kind of cookie that you could eat one right after the other.  To make them truly pretty, it would take some practice and more familiarity with the characteristics of the guava paste under heat.  These could have used more visible guava filling (it's such a pretty color), perhaps slightly more quantity.  But too much and it would melt out of the crust!  This is a keeper.

Recipe:  Biscoito goiabinha via MdeMulher Culinária

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