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Cuban Summer

The Miami heat is pretty unbearable this time of year as we head into the fall and all the delicious flavors that come with it. Every summer, I find myself experimenting more and more with fresh fruits and tropical flavors than any other time of the year. This summer, I came up with multiple fruit flavored cupcakes that have since become favorites of my customers, and I don't think I could possibly be happier with the outcome. Although I was happy with all of them, one flavor definitely outshone the rest, a favorite among the Miamians thanks to the cuban influence, Guava!

I have never been a fan of guava. Ever. While I love most cuban food, the guava was the one thing that sent me running; and despite the numerous requests (and begging) I received from both my mother and my cuban best friend to make a dessert featuring their favorite fruit, I always thought I couldn't bring my high standards of perfection to fruition (hehe) if I didn't care for a specific flavor. Finally one day in the beginning of the summer, I received a customer's request for guava cupcakes...... CRAP. It was always easy to quell my mom and Leslie, because I could offer so many other things in its place to distract them... But you can't do that to a customer who prefaces their initial email with "Guava is my absolute favorite!" So, off to the store I went, clueless as to what to buy, much less how to use it. Luckily I found organic guava preserves. The ingredients included 100% organic guava, water, and xantham gum (a natural thickener). PERFECT. I also grabbed some guava paste (unfortunately there's a lot more added sugar in that) figured I could use it for something, maybe a dollop on top. I already had definite plans to use a cream cheese frosting, since they are such a delicious tried and true pairing.

I whipped up my go to vanilla cupcake batter, and added in the guava at the proper time. I was nervous as to how they would turn out (I always get nervous with experiments), and I sat in front of the oven and watched my little babies bake and rise to their domes. "Okay, " I thought, "so far, so good." I took them out and let them cool and thank God they never fell like I was worried about. I decided to make this a true experiment, to fill half with the remaining preserves, and leave the others unfilled. I made my classic cream cheese frosting, piped it on and used the guava paste to create the dollops as planned.

Finally, I popped one in my mouth... they were.... delicious. Yes. Delicious. I hate guava, and I loved them. Then the thought entered my head, "Oh no, if I hate guava, and I love these, then that must mean they don't taste like guava!" I quickly rushed over to my parent's house (as I usually do on experiment days) and forced the newly created sweets on my mom, dad, and brother. They all loved them, and all agreed the filled ones were the way to go. I couldn't believe I got it on the first try. As a person who's always had such determination to get it right per the specific vision in mind, and will try over and over to get it that way, I'm usually used to doing the same thing multiple times, each time changing something subtly or drastically, but everyone agreed, they were perfect. I even took some into work the next day, and they were devoured in a matter of minutes. That was the extra reassurance I needed, since the majority of my co-workers are of the guava loving breed.

Inspiration is everywhere, oftentimes right in front of you, in this case, disguised under old men playing dominos, mojitos, and cigars.

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