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Cuban Dessert

I am going to host a Cuban dinner for 35 people this week based on the recipes Epicurious just featured.

I'm not a big fan of the dessert they chose (sorbet) given the number of people I am cooking for and my limited freezer space.

Can anyone suggest something I can make that is easy, I can make the night before and easy to serve? With that many people I think I might be slightly crazed by the time I have served dinner. Or maybe I am worrying too much...

I was thinking that since Cubans love coffee I could make my favourite brownie recipe into a mocha brownie. I could serve it on a plate for any takers or serve it up individually with ice cream and a drizzle of Kahlua.

any other suggestions?

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  1. Run some apple slices and chunks of kiwi through the food processor. Mix it with about 20% pineapple juice, lemon (or lime) juice and sugar to taste. Serve atop a good quality "Vanilla bean" ice cream.

    1. Cubans love their flan, and it can definitely be made the night before. An even easier dessert would be cream cheese with a guava compote spooned over it, which is also very popular.

      4 Replies
      1. re: inaplasticcup

        Let me first say that we had wonderful food almost everywhere in Cuba. Home cooked, delicious. Desserts usually consisted of fruit - which was fine with us. One exception. My husband made the mistake of ordering this rather odd dessert - like you said: cheese and guava - after a pretty awful dinner at a fairly grim hotel. I attach the photo here. I rarely take food photos but this one begged to go into the album.

        I say stick with fruit or, at most, flan.

        1. re: Nyleve

          LOL. I can see why you would not want to do that one over, Nyleve. The version I've had many times is just a slab of cream cheese with whole guava compote. Almost like cheesecake, but not quite.

        2. re: inaplasticcup

          Queso crema con guayaba was my first thought as well. I had a Cuban roommate in college whose family loved to entertain, and I loved spending time helping with parties large and small. Carr's Water Biscuits are a good textural contrast and are easy to find if your not in a place where live.
          Another thought would be to do small guava tartlets using a cream cheese dough and a tsp of guava paste. Bake to lightly brown and stabilize pastry. Can do ahead.

          Guava paste, either canned or in an oblong box, can be cut into shapes and makes a nice contrast to the cream cheese. This looks nothing like the scary thing Nyleve shows above!

          1. re: marthasway

            I love the guava tartlets idea. In fact, I think I might steal it myself.

            bout 3 years ago I had to do Cuban-themed heavy hors d'oeuvres for maybe 100 people. As I remember, the two dessert offerings were bowls of mixed fruit and coconut flan baked in large sheet pans,then cut into squares. The flan baked up just fine as long as I kept an eye on the doneness. Not all of it unmolded cleanly, but the parts left in the pan made for a great cook's treat. It was made 2 or 3 days ahead of time and kept just fine in the fridge. The recipe I used was adapted from this one


            There are some other good dessert suggestions on the site. I generally have been happy with all of their recipes that I've made.

          1. re: DonShirer

            fried plantains are a side dish to accompany the meal.

          2. Cuban-American here ... flan is about as fancy as we get re dessert, next would be guava jelly and cheese or guava pastries, for Christmas and New Year's we usually have an assortment of turron.

            We don't really do dessert.

            1 Reply
            1. re: redfish62

              @ redfish....I can't remember the last time I had turron...but you have me craving some right now.

            2. I grew up with many Cuban immigrant neighbors. Dessert, though seldom served, was generally guava shells and cream cheese or a simple array of fresh fruit.

              If you prefer something else you might want to consider tembleque. I'm not sure if it is made in Cuba, but it is very popular in Puerto Rico. Easy to make it ahead of time.

              1. FWIW, I thought I would list some of the dessert recipes I found in "Memories of a Cuban Kitchen," in case it gives you some ideas:

                Flan de Naranja/Orange flan
                Natilla/Sweet custard
                Flan de Coco/Coconut Flan
                Arroz con Leche/Rice Pudding
                Pudin de Pan/Bread Pudding
                Torrejas/French Toast
                Leche Frita/Fried Milk
                Naranja en Ron/Coral Oranges (sliced oranges, with rum, grenadine and orange juice)
                Helado Tostado/Baked Ice Cream
                Coco Quemado/Crispy Coconut
                Boniatillo/Sweet Potato Paste

                1. another vote for flan or guava pastries (even a humble guava turnover can be delicious!)

                  1. I've never been a big flan person; so whenever we've eaten at Cuban restaurants, we get the tres leches cake. But I have no idea if it's possible to make it ahead of time. I just googled for a recipe and found this one: http://www.tasteofcuba.com/tresleches... . I am sure there are others.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: LNG212

                      I made a Tres Leche cake (recipe from Epicurious) last week for a party. I think it's actually better when it sits overnight allowing the flavors to mellow. I made fresh whipped cream and served it with cut up berries and it was the hit of the evening.

                      1. re: LNG212

                        Click the link (icuban.com) for recipes for various cuban desert recipes. Look for their recipe for Tres Leches Cake, seriously the best recipe I've found. They also have 2 cookbooks that I use on a regular basis.

                      2. Wow! Ok so pretty much guava anything! Not chocolate??? Really I was hoping for as much as Cubans seem to like coffee they would have to like chocolate too and make a mocha dessert.

                        Not likely I am going to find any fresh guava (Vancouver Canada).

                        I am so tempted to say I spoke to a Cuban American and she said "We don't really do dessert' (thanks redfish62) and serve nothing! But maybe I will stick to fresh fruit. That would certainly be easy. And after a big meal (yes with grilled plantains on the side) and lots of mojitos maybe fresh fruit is all they will need....

                        Thanks so much for all your help everyone. I am shopping tomorrow and I will see if there are guava anywhere and reconsider some of the other tartlet or flan suggestions.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: julesincoq

                          not fresh guava -- guava jelly -- it's a block of prepared guava that you then use in the pastries and stuff.

                          1. re: julesincoq

                            I've had it with canned guava "shells" too. Never with fresh.

                          2. I just saw your post ... I would definitely agree with those who suggested guayaba y queso (guava and cheese). I had this in many forms in Cuba - and in a Cuban restaurant in NYC. By the way, I never had one that looked like that photo upthread! I looked at a bunch of recipes online which described doing pastries filled with guava and cheese - and I saw a guava and cheese flan recipe. This is all well and good, but it seems pretty complicated - and - I didn't have anything in Cuba like that. The guava and cheese desserts I had there were much simpler. I found this recipe (in Spanish) which seems to me to be much more like what I had -- and also would be much less time consuming for you to do. It's just guava paste with cream cheese on top.


                            4 Replies
                            1. re: woodleyparkhound

                              Yeah - that dessert was pretty weird. The guava was a sort of puree and it was topped with shreds of some kind of semi-solid cheese (there was some ubiquitous monterey-jack-like cheese available in food stores - it was mostly flavourless). To be fair, all the food we ate at this place where we spent one night was pretty terrible, especially in comparison to all the wonderful meals we'd had elsewhere. So it's entirely possible that this was some kind of nasty rendition of a Cuban dessert which would have been soundly rejected by locals. The hotel was the only one we'd visited that was in a specific tourist enclave - along a causeway open only to tourists, not Cubans.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                Sounds exactly like a resort I got stuck at off of Varadero Beach. Many miles of narrow causeway, mostly inebriated Canadians, and definitely the sorriest food I saw in Cuba - and that's saying something. My poor kid took one look at the "sushi" and said, "But I though sushi was supposed to have fish!" Even with all the very real food shortages in Cuba, the meals I had in the paladares in Havana and the food bought off the streets beat the pants off of what they were serving to the tourists.

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  And the sad thing is that the overwhelming majority of visitors to Cuba go to these resorts and never step a foot off of them. I know that there are probably some quite upmarket resorts with likely decent food, but you couldn't pay me enough to stay at one after having seen what the regular part of Cuba is like. We stayed mostly in private homes and had home cooked meals and ate wonderfully well. An most meals at paladares in Havana and elsewhere were excellent. Even the street pizza was awesome - in a Cuban sort of way.

                                  1. re: Nyleve

                                    natilla, and a good cup of strong Cuban espresso...or malta mixed with sweetened condensed milk.