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Quesito is a filled baked pastry from Puerto Rico that is usually eaten as a dessert. It can have a few different shapes, but the ingredients generally involve some kind of puff pastry crust wrapped around a filling of soft, sweet cheese. Common shapes for quesito pastries include envelope-shaped, tube-like or croissant-shaped. Sometimes the pastry is wrapped so it completely encases the filling, and sometimes the filling is partially exposed. It can be compared somewhat to a cheese empanada, though empanadas are usually fried and not baked.
This sweet dessert comes in a few different varieties. Traditionally, a quesito contains sweetened cream cheese that has been flavored with vanilla. Some quesito variations contain fruit preserves or jam, which can be layered with the sweet cream cheese or mixed into it to give the cream cheese a fruit flavor. Common fruits mixed with the cheese include guava and papaya.
Quesito is prepared for baking by rolling the pastry out, filling it with cream cheese, and folding the cream cheese into the pastry so it does not run out. It is then baked in the oven until the pastry is golden brown. Bakers usually use brushed-on egg white to brown the outside of the baked pastry and make it crispy. Egg whites can be manually separated by the cook, or they can be purchased at the store already separated from the yolk.
Generally, the cheese used to fill the quesito pastry is flavored cream cheese — a soft, white cheese that is used for many applications in food. In addition to use in quesito, it can be spread on toast, used in sandwiches or baked into a cheesecake. Neufchatel, a soft cheese which is similar to cream cheese but lower in fat, can also be used in place of cream cheese in many cases.
Quesito can be purchased from bakeries and sweet shops across Puerto Rico. Other popular desserts in this island nation include many fruit-based dishes, including flan, puddings and cakes. Fruits common to desserts in Puerto Rico include common island fare like bananas, coconuts and guavas. These fruits are baked into desserts or candied and served alongside creamy desserts like meringue or quesito.
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