Shortly after my husband and I started dating, his mom wanted to take me to Union City, New Jersey, lovingly referred to as Little Cuba. It’s such a cool little town. The streets are lined with dress shops, linen men’s shirts, and cafeterias and cafes where you can get rice and beans, Cuban sandwiches, little cups of espresso, and glorious fruity shakes. But my favorite is Chica’s Bakery, where I was introduced to the pastelito. They are rich little pastries with a savory meat filling (or fruit and cheese), and the top is crusted in sweetness. I was in love. His family ordered them for all the holidays, and they were the first thing to disappear, with good reason!
My husband and I moved to upstate New York a few years later. We weren’t too far up, still a stretch commute into Manhattan, but up there. I remember calling my mother-in-law when I was pregnant with our youngest, begging her to drive up with pastelitos. She did! I had to figure out how to make them myself! I experimented in my kitchen until I came up with pastelitos that we absolutely adore. I’ve been making them for years now.
These have been my little one’s favorite food since she was tiny. She decided that today was the day I was going to teach her how to make them, so you can see in the photos that they’re doable the first time out! 🙂
The recipe below is for my decadent holiday pastelitos. It makes enough filling for two recipes. I give a variation for a lighter version for everyday weeknight dinners at the end. I hope you love them, too! If you do, come find me again! 🙂