Three Cheese Quesitos with Honey Glaze
Before we knew better about trans fat and proper sugar intake during the morning, there were the everyday breakfasts at your neighborhood bakery. If you are around me, of course you will know them as “Panadería y Repostería” which translate to breadery (I guess?, inserting shrugging and confused woman emoji here) and pastry shop. Both foods are baked, hence the categorization of bakery to simplify things for English language sake.
In these shops, with its Spanish tiles and white fluorescent lights, you will buy local sweet bread (working on a recipe for you soon!), milk and a box of assorted sugary confections to start your day. That’s how we started our day before school many times. Now we know better, but nonetheless, those where some very happy mornings!
Some of the treats you will find there are layered guava pastry puffs with powdered sugar on top, panetelas, which are a layered dense cake bars filled with guava, and screws (yeap!) which is dough shaped as a (you guessed it!) screw filled with pastry cream, among many beloved others. But the one that, still to this day, has my heart are quesitos.
Quesitos are puff pastry filled with cheese, which doesn’t sound too different from other cheese pastries. What makes them different though is that they are covered with sugar and are glazed after baked. Now you’re getting interested, right?! This creates a messy situation with flakes of pastry all over your face and a sticky situation with sugar all over your fingers. A fun and delicious situation if you ask me! It’s a fact that after you eat many of our local pastries you can’t touch anything and need a vacuum cleaner ASAP!
So here’s my version, combining three cheeses to play around a bit with the dimension of the flavors; cream cheese, ricotta and mascarpone. You can definitely use 2 boxes of cream cheese and forget about the other two. Also, they are traditionally glazed with light corn syrup, but I thought honey would make them gooier and would balance the tang of the cheeses with its lemony notes. I think the ideal point is to mix honey and light corn syrup for a more balanced flavor and texture, 3 parts honey and 1 part syrup. And the sea salt flakes add a nice touch that not only helps in creating a beautiful texture for the pictures (like I’m going to add an ingredient just for the pic ; ) lol ) but they balance out the sweetness of everything in a very subtle way.
Are you planning of giving them a try?! Please do! And don’t forget to take some snaps and send them to me so I can share them all!
1. It will be best to work with thawed puff pastry that it is still cold and firm.
2. You can use just cream cheese for a traditional quesito if you don't have ricotta or mascarpone.
3. When assembling the quesitos, just brush with egg the inner corner of the dough for sealing purposes. You will give them the egg wash right before placing them in the oven so the dough doesn’t become soggy.
4. Try to work fast when brushing the quesitos with the egg and coating them with the sugar.
5. After baking and glazing, place them in a cooling rack and store in an airtight container for a couple of days.
Three Cheese Quesitos
Cream cheese, room temperature – 8 oz (1 box)
Ricotta cheese – ¼ cup
Mascarpone cheese – 4 oz (about half of an 8 oz container)
Raw sugar – 10 TBSP, divided
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp + more to sprinkle on top
Freshly squeezed lemon juice – ½ lemon
Puff pastry, thawed – 1 box
Egg – 1
Honey, light corn syrup or both – a couple of tablespoons
Using a stand up mixer, electric hand mixer or a whisk, mix the cheeses. Add 5 tablespoons of the sugar, the salt and lemon juice and beat everything together for 5 minutes (if using the electric mixer beat in medium low).
In a small bowl beat the egg with ¼ teaspoon of water. In a medium bowl place 4 tablespoons of the sugar.
Open the puff pastry sheet in a dry clean flat surface. Using a pizza cutter or sharp chef’s or pairing knife cut 4 x 4 squares. Brush with the egg wash the four edges of the squares (see notes). Fill each square from corner to corner diagonally with 1 to 1 ½ tablespoon of the cheese mixture. Close the square, hugging the other two corners and pressing firmly where the dough is overlapping to close the quesito tightly. Place each of them on a baking sheet covered with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Store in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°.
Take out the tray from the fridge and using a pastry brush, brush each quesito on both sides with the beaten egg. Toss it on the sugar bowl and cover them all with sugar. Place it again on the tray. Repeat the process with all the quesitos (see notes). Sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt over them. Place the tray in the oven and bake them for about 20 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and wait a few minutes until they cool down a bit. Brush each of them with the honey or the light syrup, or a combination of both as I did. Sprinkle the last tablespoon (or more) of sugar on top and let them cool down before eating them all.