This recipe has been a long time on the making. I've had a tin of guayabas in syrup in the pantry since last year as I wanted to develop a recipe to show people in Ireland how delicious they are, something tasty and easy enough that showcases this gorgeous tropical fruit that has a ton of vitamin C. So this was on the back of my mind for a while. As you can imagine, life has been incredibly busy lately. While most people are at home during the lockdown, myself and Alan are both working longer hours than we ever did, he has been switching all his academic work into online lectures that are accessible to his students around the world, while I've been working 24/7 at Picado.
While all the classes at Picado had to be cancelled and the shop closed to the public, we are still working the online shop, which has seen a huge increase in orders and has me working 7 days weeks for the past month and a half. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to make sure to take Sundays off as I was wearing myself sick with worry and too much work. Running a small business at this crazy times is such a stressful thing. Noone knows what's going to happen, or what the future will look like. All big plans abandoned and switching to survival mode.
Although I'm not physically working the shop on Sundays, I still have a ton of admin work to do, but I'm making sure Sundays are also used to tend to my raise bed (we're learning to grow food in our back garden), and I also do some cooking and some writing. It relaxes me and it adds an anchor to my day off. So yesterday I looked again into the cover and saw the tin of guayabas and I immediately set to make this. It's a very popular dessert in Mexico and I love its silky texture, a cross between a flan and a cheesecake.
Guayabas, or Guavas as they're known in many parts of the world, are native to Mexico and some parts of central and south America; they are fragrant, tropical fruit, with a sweet and tangy pulp and tons of hard seeds. The variety I grew up eating at home had yellow skin and a very pale yellow pulp. In Mexico we make juice, candies, Christmas punch, or we eat them just as a fruit. The pulp makes amazing flavour for chilli based sweets and guayaba pate is just amazing. This flan, however, is my favourite way to eat them. Enjoy the recipe!
Start by making the caramel. Put the sugar and water on a pot at medium heat. Cook the mixture without stirring until it becomes caramel, roughly 12 to 15 minutes. I never stir the caramel until the very last minute, when it starts changing colour and turning amber.
Pour the caramel into a 20 cms cake tin making sure to cover the bottom and the sides of the tin with the caramel. The tin is going to get super hot, so maybe handle it with gloves. Set it aside to cool down. While the caramel cools down, get the water bath for the oven ready. This flan needs to be cooked in a bain marie or water bath; all this means is that your cake tin needs to go into another tray that's filled with hot water from the kettle; Cooking your flan like this, makes for a nicer texture in this dessert.
Pre-heat the oven at 170 Celsius and set the Bain Marie or water bad tray full with boiling water in it now. Put the guavas and the evaporated milk in the blender or food processor and blend everything until smooth. Don't wash the blender as you'll need it again.
Pass the milky guava mixture through a sieve to get rid of the guavas' pips. The pips are super hard and each guava has many of those. Discard the pips and return the sieved mixture to the blender.
Add the creme cheese, condenced milk, eggs and vanilla essence to the milky guayaba mixture and blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the caramel in the cake tin. Carefully put it in the bain marie or water bath you prepared in the oven. Cook for 1.5 hours or until you insert a toothpick or cake taster and it comes out clean. Remove the cake tin from the water bath and place it in a cooling rack. Don't worry if the flan has a wobble. It normally does. As it cools down, it will drop a little, that's ok too. Leave it to cool completely in the tin. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for a couple of hours or even better overnight.
Take the flan out of the fridge and run a knife or a spatula along the sides of the tin to release the flan from the tin. Carefully turn it into a cake plate (make sure it has a lip as you don't want the caramel to run off the plate). You might need to bang the cake tin a few times to fully release the flan, it's nerve wrecking, but effective. Don't be afraid, it will come off and it'll have loads of gorgeous runny caramel in it. I finished it with some pecan halves for decoration, but you can add toasted coconut shavings or some sour cream with it.
So there you have it, a delicious Mexican dessert you can make in advance and keep cool in the fridge for up to 5 days. I absolutely love it!