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Guava Fool Dessert [BVI Dessert Recipe]

Mid-summer trade winds bring an unmistakable aroma – that of fresh guava fruit. Most of us think of beverages when we hear the word “intoxicating,” yet it is more than appropriate as a description for ripe guavas.

Few foods can compete with guava when it comes to intoxicating aromas, with a deliciously exotic fragrance that permeates any house or boat. I initially tasted fresh-off-the-tree guava during my first summer in the BVI.

It was early July and I had spent a busy morning assisting with the annual HIHO windsurfing and stand-up-paddle regatta – now held in January – organising windsurfing equipment.

Our group was getting hungry and we were in need of a snack. One of my fellow regatta crew members, Sheldon – a cheerful Jamaican fellow – looked up at a nearby tree and broke into a huge smile. He stepped over to the tree and gave it a firm shake. To my surprise, ripe guavas started dropping to the ground.

We enjoyed a delightful buffet of all-we-could-eat guavas and in doing so, I discovered my new beloved fruit.

Although my preferred way to eat guavas is straight out of hand, the fruit accommodates both sweet and savoury cooking preparations – they are used extensively in jams and jellies, fruit salads, beverages—including fruity rum cocktails—desserts and candies.

Additionally, it is sometimes paired with meat such as pork or chicken.

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A hugely popular Eastern Caribbean treat is “guava cheese” (sometimes called guava paste). Despite its name, this local delicacy bears no resemblance to cheddar or parmesan. It’s essentially a dense, sugary, sticky confection that is adored by children and adults alike, particularly those with a sweet tooth.

Barring the addition of copious amounts of sugar, guavas are a veritable super-fruit, jam-packed with vitamin C, potassium and dietary fibre. Well over 100 varieties of guavas exist worldwide, with wide variations in appearance and flavour.

The flesh ranges from white to yellow to deep pink. Some varieties have edible skins and seeds, while other types must be peeled and seeded. Typically, Caribbean guavas are completely edible,  with vibrant pink flesh and a sweet fruity flavour; however, the seeds are often removed if a guava is to be used in sauces or desserts.

Choose guavas that are a light green or yellowish colour and slightly recede when pressed with the thumb.

It’s easy to tell when they’re ready to eat: simply wait for their sweet aroma—or “extravagant floral bouquet” in the words of one of my favourite cookbooks—to fill the air. If guavas have a musky or sour odour, they are likely unripe.

This traditional English dessert consists of little more than chilled fruit purée folded into cold whipped cream. I use guava to lend an island-inspired flavour to this British treat.

Since guavas tend to contain flavours of a variety of fruits, predominantly strawberries, consider guava fool a Caribbean twist on the always popular dessert of strawberries and cream.

July—a hot month in the Virgin Islands summer season—is not the time when people want to slave away in a hot kitchen. Rather, it’s the month for quick and cool frozen or refrigerated desserts, such as a “fool.”

Guavas are in season right now, so seek them out at supermarkets and farmer’s markets or, look for a nearby guava tree ready to be shaken.

Whisk guava purée with 2 Tbl sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Then, beat whipping cream and remaining 2 Tbl sugar in another bowl (preferably a chilled metal bowl) with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold sweetened purée into whipped cream, leaving some swirls of colour. Divide amoung chilled bowls and top with thinly sliced fresh guavas. Makes about 5 servings.

Note: I use frozen guava purée for simplicity and year-round availability, but certainly use fresh guavas if they’re available. Just be sure to push the purée through a sieve to remove seeds.

Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

An avid home-cook and sailor, Susie provides Virgin Islands Property and Yacht magazine with that touch of warmth with her great provisioning recipes for amateur and veteran cooks.
Susie Younkle, Home-cook and Sailor

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