Guava paste is an ingredient that pops up in many Cuban, Caribbean and South American recipes, and seems to be popping up more often in markets in the US. This specialty ingredient, also known as goiabada or pasta de guayaba, is basically candied guava puree. It is made by cooking together guava fruit and sugar until it is very, very thick and then leaving the mixture to dry to remove excess moisture. This results in a paste that keeps well and is very flavorful. While the exact consistency of guava paste can vary from brand to brand – some are very dry and similar in texture to fruit leather, while others are more moist and slightly more jam-like – they are all thick enough to slice and serve. Guava paste, with its sweet, floral taste works well in desserts, but shows frequently in savory dishes. For instance, it is often paired with cheese as an appetizer or baked into empanadas as part of a filling. In desserts, it is used as a filling for cookies and tarts, lending a distinct and tropical flavor to anything that it shows up in.
You can find guava paste at Mexican and Latin American markets and in well-stocked regular markets in the Latin American section of the store. It is also available online and from some specialty retailers.