Hi Everyone, I have this monologue with myself each Saturday that I go to the market:

“You have the list right? No deviating from it (the list) today. And when you come home you’re not spending all day in the kitchen. Cook lunch and be out of the kitchen by midday the latest. No experimenting today either.”

20130907nelsonOne can have good intentions can’t they? But then again my friends who are my taste-testers might not agree. Some of them have the audacity to contact me on Fridays to ask if I am going to the market in the morning (Saturday). They know what uptakes. This past Saturday was no different.

Armed with my list I set about to get my vegetables and ground provisions. I was doing well, keeping steadfast to the list, until I got a whiff of guavas. “I’m smelling guavas,” I said more to myself than anyone else but I think the woman next to me heard me and pointed me in the direction of the guavas. It was in the lane just above the one I was in and as luck would have it, it was my friend Joel Searle and his mom’s stall. You know, it is a bad thing when other people know your areas of weakness, they can take advantage; they can coerce, cajole and contrive to tempt you.

I stood in front of the stall staring at the guavas piled high in front of me. I inhaled deeply. As I inhaled I closed my eyes and said in my mind, “You don’t need the guavas Cynthia. Remember what we talked about at home? You already have guavas frozen. Why are you going to buy more guavas?” I opened my eyes and saw Joel’s outstretched hand offering me a plastic bag in which to put the guavas; the most mischievous

L - R: Sliced guavas, pulp with seeds, soft jam (Photographs by Cynthia Nelson)
L – R: Sliced guavas, pulp with seeds, soft jam (Photographs by Cynthia Nelson)

of smiles on his face. As I reached out to take the bag, he laughed and asked me if the bag was big enough. You see what I mean about not letting people know about your faults and weaknesses?

3 pounds of guavas, 4 large bundles of callaloo, 2 packets of bora, 1 bag of onions, 2 bundles of thyme, 2 bundles of basil, 1 bunch of cilantro/coriander, 1 bundle of scallions/green onions, 3 pounds of green plantains, 2 pounds of sweet potatoes, 2 pounds of eddoes, 4 cucumbers and 1 large head of lettuce, later, I was home.

As I busied myself packing away my market haul, I was thinking about what to make with the guavas. Jam? No. Stew them? Not interested. Make drink? Eh. Cut them and freeze them? Why? That would defeat the purpose of buying the guavas given that you already have frozen guavas. How about a tart? The voice in my head asked. I paused, having finished unpacking and putting away the other things I had bought.

And so before you knew it, I was cutting guavas, making a soft jam to form the base of the tart, rolling out homemade pastry dough and blind-baking (partially cooking the pastry dough before adding the filling). A few hours later I made 3 phone calls to some friends. And you know what? They did not even have the decency to sound surprised. The promptness of their arrival made me wonder if they were just circling the neighourhood waiting for my call.

They ate their fill, we discussed the tart I noted their taste-test comments. When it was time to leave, I could see them wrestling with themselves, forbidding themselves to ask: “Are you going to the market next week?”





Guava Tart (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)
Guava Tart (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Guava Tart

For this recipe I used a standard rectangular tart pan: 11 ¼” x 8 ¼” by 1” high. A standard round 10 ¼” pan would work too or an 11” pan, both of 1” high.



For pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface

2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt (a pinch)

2 ounces (1/4 cup) vegetable shortening, very cold, cubed

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, very cold, cubed

3 – 5 tablespoons iced water


For filling:

3 pounds ripe guavas, rinsed and the tips at the top and bottom removed

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup water

2 sticks cinnamon

3 whole allspice berries, crushed

2 whole cloves

½ cup sugar



For pastry:

1.  Add the flour, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to mix.

2.  Add the shortening and butter to the flour mixture and pulse several times or until the butter and shortening are tiny pebbles in the flour. With the processor running, pour in the water until the mixture becomes like wet sand that sticks together when pressed.

3.  Lightly flour a work surface. Turn the ingredients from the food processor on to the work surface. Flour your hands and bring the dough together into one solid mass. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to use.


For filling:

1.  Cut the flesh of the guavas, moving from top to bottom; try to avoid cutting into the seeds, if you do, simply use your thumb to remove any seeds from the flesh.

2.  Add the sliced guava flesh to a bowl along with the 1 ½ tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon, toss to coat and set aside.

3.  Add the rest of the guava pulp encrusted with seeds to a pot along with the water, cinnamon, allspice and cloves and place on medium heat, covered. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 30 minutes or until the pulp is softened.

4.  Remove the cover of the pot, raise the heat to medium high and mash the softened guava with a potato masher. Cook for 5 minutes then add the sugar. Stir the sugar until dissolved and bring the pot back to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

5.  Set a large sieve over a bowl and spoon the cooked guava into the sieve. Rub and press the mixture through the sieve; use a spoon intermittently to scrape the bottom of the sieve to remove the puree. Repeat until all the cooked guava is passed through the sieve. Set aside.



1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and let it rest for about 10 minutes or until it makes it easy to roll. You do not want the pastry to get warm; it should still be cold but not so stiff that it breaks. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to 13” x 10” with a ¼-inch thickness.

3.  Rub more flour onto the rolling pin, place it on one end of the rolled dough and lift the dough onto the rolling pin. Roll the pastry on to the rolling pin and transfer it to the tart pan unfurling it over the pan. Lift the dough hanging over the sides of the pan and press the pastry firmly into the fan. Use a knife to cut off the excess or roll the rolling pin over the pan to remove the dough that drapes over the edge of the pan.

4.  Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool the baked pastry for 20 minutes before adding the filling.

5.  Spoon the pureed/soft jam onto the pastry, reserving ½ cup. Spread it out evenly.

6.  Arrange the sliced guavas on top of the jam and bake for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes brush the remaining jam over the tart and return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

7.  Remove tart from the oven and let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, as is or with ice cream.



●  The dimensions indicated above are for a rectangular tart pan, if using a round pan or a pan of another side, roll out to 2 inches more than the dimensions of the pan.

●  If you are using a pan with a removable bottom, place it on a sheet pan to bake in the oven.

●  Make the pastry by hand if you do not have a food processor.

●  Any variety of guavas will work.

●  You can opt to trim the excess pastry after the tart is fully baked.

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