This torte is a traditional dessert in Puerto Rico and Cuba. In Puerto Rico its called Panetela de Guayaba and in Cuba its called Masareal. I have tried many homemade as well as commercial versions, but I have found no comparison to this recipe. I believe the key is the melted butter. Many recipes ask for softened butter and the turn-out is dryer and more like a cake. This version melts in your mouth and is more chewey.
Our Senior year of high school (1991), our mothers prepared a booklet with a collection of recipes called “Cocinando con Mama” or Cooking with Mom, as a graduation present. It was such a nice surprise to see that most mothers had shared their trademark recipes with us who were at that moment leaving the nest to pursue our college degrees. This booklet was my companion during my first years in Washington, DC. From this collection of recipes I make Jeannie’s Fruit Punch and Seven Layer Salad, Carmen Folgueira’s Rice with Onions, Dary’s Mexican Dip, and my mother’s Asopao among others.
A few years ago, we had a get together and my friend Cristina showed up with a basket full of Paneleta de Guayaba squares. They were delicious! I am sure by now she can make this recipe with her eyes closed and I admit her “guayabitas” always taste better than the ones I make! When I asked her for the recipe she said it was Bea’s mom (Michelle Rodriguez) recipe in “Cocinando con Mamá”. So the next day I took out my booklet and got to work in the kitchen. The only variation from the original recipe is that I sift the flour once and add a little vanilla. As a curious detail, some people like to eat only the corner pieces because they are crustier and others like to eat only the middle pieces which are softer.
It is easy to make and people love to get homemade Panetela de Guayaba as a present, only remember to whisk and beat by hand just until ingredients are fully incorporated. Also, wet your hands continuously so that the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. If you happen to have left overs (rarely happens in my house) or want to make it ahead of time, store in air tight containers or tightly sealed plastic bags.
Panetela de Guayaba (Guava Torte, Masareal)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups of self rising flour (sifted)
1 stick of butter (1/4 pound) melted
about 10 ounces of guava paste cut into 1/4 inch slices
about 2 tbsp of butter to grease mold
1. Preheat oven 350º F.
2. Whisk eggs, vanilla and sugar by hand until creamy in texture.
3. Add sifted flour to egg/sugar mixture and stir with spatula.
4. Add melted butter and continue to mix by hand until ingredients are fully incorporated. You will end up with a sticky dough.
5. Generously grease a baking mold (I use a glass Pyrex mold approximately 11×8 inches) with butter.
6. Take a little over half the batter and spread in the bottom of baking mold. It is very important that you continuously wet your hands so that the dough does not stick to your fingers. I always place a glass of water in the countertop to dip my fingers and manage the dough.
7. Place the guava paste strips evenly over the dough.
8. Cover guava paste with remaining dough and bake for approximately 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
9. Let cool and cut into squares. Serve as a dessert or snack at parties.