For the first time ever, with irradiation solving the perennial fruit-fly problem, Mexican guavas are being imported into the U.S., and those lushly aromatic orbs are turning up in tiendas from East 116th Street to Sunset Park. They’ve also landed on the menu at La Palapa, where chef-partners Barbara Sibley and Margaritte Malfy employ the fruit in sauces, salads, and this luscious dessert. Rich in vitamins C and A and completely edible from skin to seeds, the “apple of the tropics” is a tangy cure for the wintertime blues.
La Palapa’s Mexican Guavas in Saffron Syrup
2 pounds firm, ripe Mexican guavas
2 cups sugar
1 three-inch cinnamon stick, preferably Ceylon soft-stick variety, available at Kalustyan’s
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 pinch saffron threads
1 cup Mexican crema (crème fraîche or mascarpone may be substituted)
Wash guavas and trim off both ends. (1) Cut in half and (2) scoop out the seeded section with a teaspoon. Combine the sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and lime juice with a quart of water in a stock pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. (3) Add the guavas and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes, or until fruit is just tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the guavas with a slotted spoon and place them in a glass bowl. Strain out the cloves and cinnamon. Bring the syrup to a boil over medium heat, and let it reduce for about 10 minutes or until semi-thick. Add the saffron to the pot and stir gently, then return the guavas and stir again. Turn off the flame and allow the guavas to cool. Refrigerate for at least an hour, and serve in small bowls or wineglasses with a dollop of crema.