I have been running yachts throughout the Bahamas for over 35 years. When it comes to food, there is nothing better than cultural cuisine like pigeon-peas and rice, cracked or scorched conch, chicken souse or fresh fish. All of these items may be obtained all year long. But by far my favorite part of Bahamian delights is a dessert item called Guava Duff.
In the early years when I started working in the Bahamas, this delicacy could only be had during the ripening in the late summer months. But with guava’s popularity, a canned paste can be used year around; though the fresh fruit variety is my favorite.
When in Nassau, the Poopdeck and Green Parrot serve duff up; with the latter being my fav. Or, you may follow the instructions below and make your own while out-island.
4 c. guava flesh thinly sliced or cut (peeled and seeded- pulp removed and saved for sauce)
¾ c. brown sugar (depends on the sweetness of the guavas)
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Preparation of filling:
Cook guava flesh with nutmeg, sugar and salt a day ahead in a medium saucepan on medium to low heat until thick, soft and sugar is dissolved (about 25 to 30 minutes). Let cool and set aside in refrigerator until ready to spread in dough. This can be made a day in advance.
Guava Sauce Ingredients:
1 stick butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 c. powder sugar
½ can sweet condensed milk
Guava pulp from the guavas (1/2 cup to 1 cup)
Brandy to taste (how much is up to you!!)
Preparation of Guava Sauce
Cream the butter and sugar well. Blend in powder sugar and add sweet milk. Stir in the pulp and rum/brandy, vanilla and set aside. This may seem like it will be too sweet but it actually isn't. If you are in doubt, then decrease the amount of sugar and taste. If it needs more sugar, then just add more. Better to be safe than sorry, right!!
2 ½ c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter, softened
¾ c. milk (room temp)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Preparation of dough:
Before making the dough, get a large pot/pan with cover (that can fit your duff) that is oven proof and fill half way with hot water. Preheat to 350° and place pot/pan in oven while waiting for the dough to be prepared.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. In larger bowl, blend sugar, eggs and butter. Add milk to combine and mix dry ingredients. At this point I took some of the guava flesh and mix in the dough (you can skip this part and just add it in for the filling only). Knead until stiff. Add more flour if necessary to make a smooth dough. If you want to make 2 small duffs, just cut dough in half and proceed with the instructions for the duff. Take a rolling pin and roll out dough in rectangular shape (about ½ to ¾ inch thickness). Spread the rest of the guava flesh (from the fridge) in the dough to within an inch of each side and roll up duff sealing the edges.
In the old days, the duff would be wrapped tightly in a pillow case or old white t-shirt. Today, we cut a large piece of parchment paper and double foil. Wrap the duff in the parchment first and then seal with the double foil. (Double foil simply means to cut 2 large pieces of foil and lay on top of another to create a thicker piece of foil). Place duff in pot/pan in oven covered. The water has to be half way up the duff or completely covering the duff. Cook for about 1 hr. and 20 mins turning the duff (if the water is halfway up the duff) halfway through cooking. If the duff is completely immersed then there is no need to turn it. This procedure can also be done on top of the stove by boiling the duff in a double boiler.
When done, take out of pot/pan and open duff (being careful not to burn yourself from the steam) and let cool down until it is nice and warm. To ensure that duff is done, stick a knife in duff and if it comes out clean, then it is done. If it comes out with a sticky doughy consistency, then wrap it back up and cook it for another 20 to 30 minutes. Slice as thin or as thick as you like and pour warm guava sauce over the duff. Enjoy, JW