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Taste of islands for Valentine’s Day

Michele, granddaughter Kayla, and the Guava Chiffon wedding cake.
Michele, granddaughter Kayla, and the Guava Chiffon wedding cake. Del Norte Triplicate / Richard Wiens
My friend Karen says I’m a food Nazi. There are foods I absolutely won’t eat — and that, I know, is my own prerogative.

But sometimes I tend to be outspoken about other people’s choices — carcinogenic hot dogs for instance. I want to rip them out of mustard-stained hands every time I see someone eating one. Karen says that’s going beyond the boundaries of what’s acceptable. I can’t, she says, change the world one donut-eater at a time. She says I need to lighten up.

So this column is my attempt to lighten up — with a light and airy chiffon cake. What follows is the recipe for classic Guava Chiffon Cake created by Hawaiian baker Herbert Matsuba in the 1960s and shared by Honolulu Star Bulletin features editor Betty Shimabukuro in her 2006 book “By Request — The Search for Hawaii’s Greatest Recipes.”

By the time I arrived on the islands in the mid-1970s, Guava Chiffon Cake was a staple at most neighborhood bakeries and could be found on dessert menus of many restaurants. And although Mr. Matsuba retired over 20 years ago, his cake continues to delight (the name of his bakery was Dee-Lite) locals and tourists alike.

It was my choice for our wedding cake when Rick and I tied the knot in December. Triplicate columnist and chef Anne Boulley baked us a beautiful Guava Chiffon Cake using this recipe. The pale pink color makes it a perfect choice for your Valentine’s dinner dessert.

Batter

2 ¾ cups cake flour

2/3 cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup salad oil

½ cup water

¾ cup guava juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted

5 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 to 3 drops red food coloring (I would personally not put food coloring in anything I make, but, there I go again)

Meringue

7 egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup sugar

Guava Filling

2 tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup water

Pinch salt

1  12-ounce can guava juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 slightly beaten egg yolk

1 tablespoon butter

Whipped cream for frosting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan

To make batter: Sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Make a well in the center; add oil, water, guava juice concentrate, egg yolks and vanilla. Beat with a spoon until mixture is smooth. Add food coloring. Set aside.

To make meringue: Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in ½ cup sugar until stiff.

Gently fold batter into meringue until barely mixed. Pour into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and invert on a rack to cool completely.

To make guava filling: Mix cornstarch with water in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve lumps. Add salt, guava and lemon juices, and egg yolk. Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter. Cool slightly.

To assemble cake: Remove carefully from pan. Cut the 9x13 inch cake in half. Chill the cake then spread the bottom layer with the guava filling. Chill it again to firm everything up before adding the top layer. Cover with whipped cream then drizzle a little filling on top.

You can also make it in two round cake pans which is what Anne did. Either way, it will taste light and tropical.

Reach Michele Grgas Postal, the Del Norte Triplicate’s publisher, at  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it , 464-2141, or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

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