feast magazine article

feast magazine, august 2014: guava-pineapple paletas with coconut vanilla-infused cream.

guava pineapple paletas with coconut vanilla-infused cream.

White food, coming through! Sorry, friends; this is just one of those things which will forever keep me out of “professional food photographer” territory; my inability to photograph pale food well. It’s like a curse.

The August Feast is here! It was here almost a week ago, but who’s counting? I’ve been busy poring over each page, as it’s the magazine’s annual bear hug to the best St. Louis has to offer, culinarily speaking. Not an awkward hug, either: St. Louis bear-hugs right back, and it’s something to behold, especially if you’ve lived here all your life as I have. And while all this food love happens, while gorgeous plates of food are styled and captured on film, I get to work with…paste!

guava pineapple paletas with coconut vanilla-infused cream.

(crickets. somewhere in the distance, a tumbleweed blows by.)

Paste, ladies and gentleman!

It’s my win, though – seriously – because it’s guava paste, an ingredient which will carry you off to distant, sun-drenched beaches south of the equator the minute you smell it. It’s weird like that. I can’t complain anyway, because I pick my ingredients, and I made no mistake here with this one.

Full disclosure: guava paste is an ingredient which is embarrassing to love. It’s like the friend you have in elementary school who’s constantly picking her nose and pulling her dress over her head at birthday parties; she’s so great when no one’s watching, but a hot mess in public. Because yes, guava paste is made from fresh guava, and yes, fresh guava is a fruit; a wonderful, floral-scented, tropical fruit at that. I’d love to tell you that guava paste was simply concentrated guava, much in the way that pomegranate molasses is basically cooked-down pomegranate juice.

 guava pineapple paletas with coconut vanilla-infused cream.

Sorry, people: it’s not. It’s guava cooked down with a dizzying amount of sugar and corn syrup until it becomes basically a huge slab of Turkish delight. If you wanted to build a gummy house for the bears? This would be your ideal building material. It’s dense, sturdy, and although it carries an expiration date on the package, I have a difficult time believing it ever expires.

This should not in any way deter you from rushing out to get the guava paste, however: those things I said? That’s sort of my way of telling you how much I adore guava paste. Much like the friend example above, there’s something endearing about food like this: it’s unapologetically sweet, brightly colored, and has a texture which makes you want to laugh right out loud at it, but still…it’s so, so awesome once you get to know it. And once you get to know it, and know what it can do, you’ll begin to love it for all that it is and all that it isn’t.

What it is: well, okay, so I answer this in the article, but it’s basically what I said above: guava pulp simmered down with loads of sugar until it’s thick at room temperature to maintain a shape without budging, similar in texture to the inside of a gum drop. There’s a candy-like sweetness to it, but it’s not in any way a false flavor: the fresh guava still shines through in both flavor and scent.

What it’s not: healthy, which is precisely why I housed it in the most entertaining paletas you will make this summer. First, you do this whole thing where you steep toasted coconut chips and vanilla beans in a coconut cream, milk, and heavy cream mixture (!) and let it sit for a while. Then you strain everything out and layer the base into popsicle molds with fresh pineapple (!!) and tiny guava paste cubes (!!!). You may be wondering how guava paste cubes react when frozen inside dessert; very well, as a matter of fact. The thing about guava paste is that is has enough corn syrup in it to prevent it from becoming solid, even when frozen, which means you have perfect jelly-like cubes floating around in your paleta. Texturally, it’s a carnival: frozen coconut-vanilla base, chilly crisp pineapple, and soft, pliable guava paste. Way too much fun for one person, so make a batch and share them with people you really like. We’re seeing the last gasps here of summer berries and some of the produce we all hate to say goodbye to, and this little treat is a great way to usher in late summer before everything goes all apple pear pumpkin-spicy haywire.

guava pineapple paletas with coconut vanilla-infused cream.

As luck would have it, I’m so late writing this (I planned that?) that the Feast TV August episode has already aired! Which means those of you who aren’t local can watch it anytime: here’s the link.

If you’re local and haven’t picked up your copy of Feast, I’d get on it. It’s one I tend to keep (lie: I keep all of them) to use for reference for where I’d like to eat in the near future. Always reliable. And this issue will go fast; not only are there tons of amazing things inside, there’s giant ice cream sandwiches on the outside. If you miss it (and for the non-locals), here’s the link to the digital issue.

BUT GUESS WHAT!?! I know I’ve mailed several of you copies of Feast in the past, often requested, sometimes just because. Now, I don’t have to argue with the Post Office over mailing options: you can get a shiny new Feast Magazine delivered to your door monthly by subscribing. I may actually subscribe just so I don’t have to circle the guy who drops them off at the newsstand each month. What? Can’t a girl just hang out in the entryway of her favorite grocery store for long periods of time? Jeez.

And, as always, if you’re aching to turn your coconut vanilla guava paste pineapple dreams into reality, check out my recipe for Guava-Pineapple Paletas with Coconut Vanilla-Infused Cream. Like that title? I think every time I submit an article, my working title gets longer. They do a great job at editing that down, but I always enjoy seeing how exactly they’re going to do it.

I’m so mad now because I really want to make these paletas again now that I’ve talked about them. They were that delicious, and exceptionally good in hot weather, which is happening right now. Thank goodness I thought to grab an extra slab of it; always be prepared, friends.

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  • Reply Jacklyn August 6, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I totally have a stock pile of Feast magazines! I haven’t picked up this month’s yet but from the look of these I need to 🙂

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Yay! they’re such a great source for recipes and restaurant ideas (not to mention my always-favorite gadgets column: essential, in my opinion).

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends August 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    AAAH! I CAN SUBSCRIBE TO FEAST! Doing… doing… done. And guava paste? So fancy. I have yet to play around with it, but your description of it as that awkward childhood friend is both hilarious and perfect. And now I want to build a gummy bear house out of it. But, more importantly, I want to make these Paletas. YUM.

    • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends August 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      P.S., your photography here is AWESOME. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:14 am

        (embarrassed face.) aw…:)

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:11 am

      I AM SO EXCITED TOO! obviously i can just go grab the magazine, but i was really stoked when they opened it up for subscription: i love sending them out, but chances are they come a lot fast that way. 🙂 Guava paste is so much fun! something about it is totally addictive; once you eat it, you will want it all the time. Just looking at these paletas again makes me want to whip some up, basically as an excuse to eat guava paste with abandon.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats August 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    These are seriously DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, Shannon! You’re crazy if you don’t think these pictures are beautiful! And the flavor profile sounds so amazingly refreshing and summery. Now that I have a popsicle mold I’m going to have to track down some guava paste because my belly needs these STAT.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:12 am

      thank you! i know i’m dumb about photos: YOU ALL ARE SO SUPPORTIVE! 🙂 I just always see my own photos and think “someone else could do way better than this” and then i get all bummed out. These are super tropical and summery, for sure: think island vacation and you’ve got it.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs August 6, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    The pictures are quite good. Somehow I’ve never been able to get into guava pasta — probably should give it a try again. Anyway, I’ve got all the recipes in my copy of Feast that I picked up a few days ago. 😉

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:14 am

      thank you, John! I think i psych myself out with white food, and it’s nice that all of you are super encouraging of my photos. I try. 🙂 Little did i know that i hadn’t had a chance to get to my comments until um, a MONTH after they happened, so i hope you a) loved the August issue and b) have had a chance to grab a September one. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley August 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Dude. I want my house built of guava paste, plus some gummy bear roommates. Though I suppose this dream is best reserved for less humid and hot days…otherwise it could get real sticky and ugly.

    I love what you did with the paletas! Tropical, texture, and crazy awesome flavor – everything I could wish for (but don’t seem to have the inherent genius to think of on my own) in a tropical frozen treat. Plus I’m getting a little tired of berries in popsicles. Heresy, I know. But I love to switch things up.

    And I can totally relate to guava paste being utterly addicting. I had an encounter with membrillo paste (super cheap at the Latin market, by the way) recently and may have nibbled a few too many “scraps” (aka giant chunks) of it while making a cake. And membrillo is no where near as exotic and bewitching as sexy guava paste. I think you can guess what I might be munching this weekend, hiding in the corner so no one can judge. 🙂

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:19 am

      do you know how delicious and fragrant your house would be were it made from guava paste? ugh…so delicious. Definitely you’d need to move to a less humid climate, however, because GOO. 🙂

      thank you! these have evidently become a serious comfort food for me because talking about these does make me want to remake them right away: i think i have some guava paste still hanging out in the fridge, so there’s NOTHING TO STOP ME. i hear you about berries: certainly berries are great (and we’re going to be REALLLLLLLY sorry we said that come January, Ashley) but a break from them is nice, i agree. and berries just simply do not go as well with coconut as tropical fruits do: that’s a fact.

      membrillo! basically the same in terms of addictiveness level, for sure! it’s embarrassingly easy to chow down on. just yes, don’t let anyone see you and you’re good. It’s sort of like eating really good fruit preserves with a spoon. oh wait…did i say that? ummmm…:)

  • Reply movita beaucoup August 8, 2014 at 5:20 am

    I’ve spoken to 2.0 about constructing a modest home using materials similar in composition to Turkish Delight, and he seems doubtful. Thus, I will spend my entire weekend erecting a guava paste structure just to prove him wrong.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:32 am

      2.0 isn’t as much of a dreamer as you. He lacks vision.

  • Reply Deb August 8, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I’m not sure happened but I now have thoughts of adding mini-gummy bears to coconut flavored pops. Although I wouldn’t want to be found guilty of drowning the poor sweet things in sugary goodness.
    As the saying goes, all good things in moderation! Including corn syrup and all other forms of sugar!
    BTW The paletas look scrumptious!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Me too, Deb! I debating whether or not to look for gummy bear molds to purchase…certainly not a necessity, but so fun!
      Agree: moderation is key with food, and with everything: i never feel bad about nibbling a bit of guava paste now and again. In fact, i think i’d feel worse if i didn’t. thank you!

  • Reply elizabeth August 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    What is so splendid about this recipe is how appropriate it is for now, but also how good it would taste on a more temperate winter/spring day when I’m inevitably in the mood for something bright and fruity, even if it is chilly. (I’m guessing that’s New England’s influence on me, as no matter the time of year people are always lined up for some Stew Leonard’s ice cream.)

    To chime in with what others have said–these are really beautifully photographed, so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:37 am

      I completely agree: I timed this one for the magazine in the hopes that people would carry it over into the cooler temperatures. A little reminder of summers’ past, if you will. We’re not so different in the Midwest when it comes to ice cream, either: Many of St. Louis’s frozen custard stands are either open well into November, or reopen around that time to double as christmas tree lots (while serving the cold stuff.)

      Thank you so much: i doubt my photography on an almost-daily basis, and just get sketched out when i know i’m photographing white food. it makes me feel so much more confident hearing everyone’s kind words. 🙂

  • Reply Kimberly August 11, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Umm … I think these photographs are quite stunning, my friend!

    And this recipe? OMG … yes! It’s only 10:51 am, but I think that’s a perfect time to eat one (or two!) of these delicious treats!

    Speaking of Feast … are you going to the Feast Fete later this month? I hope to see you there!

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:39 am

      thank you! It’s a self-conciousness i need to kick, i think. Just get nervous when i feel like a photo could be something more than it is, but you all are amazingly sweet in your praise. 🙂

      i could totally see eating these for breakfast: i mean, coconut? fruit and fruitish things? WHY NOT. It’s basically like granola and milk if you think about it, but without the granola (which you could easily do on the side, right?)

      Because i’m *ahem* so good at keeping up with comments this month, YES: and i’m so happy I saw you there. It was so nice getting to chat with you, and i look forward to our future lunch date. I always have such a nice time talking with you, Kimberly.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats August 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    What are you talking about, Shannon…these photos are great! And oh my gosh, these look incredible. I have been craving ice pops this summer, and these look so creamy and delicious. Unfortunately I’m too lazy to gather these ingredients and make them. Please come over…

    • Reply shannon August 31, 2014 at 8:41 am

      ALL YOU GUYS WANT TO DO IS ARGUE LOL. thank you, seriously: it’s nice to hear you all liked my photos, even though i guess (initially) i did not. You make me see things in a more objective way, which is basically me being less critical of myself. 🙂

      I would LOVE to come over and make you these: i’d make you ice pops all day long.

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