moveable feast: sweet dessert empanadas

saffron pear apple filling in sweet dessert empanadas

Previously, I posted about making empanada fillings and dough in advance. Now comes the easy part of the empanada making process: filling and baking! You've got your fillings and your dough, so it's smooth sailing from here on out. Preheat your oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl or cup, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.


filling and baking empanadas

1/4 cup non-dairy milk or creamer
fillings
dough rounds or squares
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Take your dough shapes, gently stretch the edges, then brush with the milk or creamer. Scoop 1/3 cup filling into the center and spread lightly over half; leave about 1/2 inch of space along the edges. Fold the unfilled side over the filling, press down with your fingers to seal, then crimp with the tines of a fork.

Carefully place on prepared baking sheet, brush with more milk or creamer and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Repeat until out of filling, then bake for 24-26 minutes, or  until the tops have golden spots. Wait five minutes before digging in!

round saffron pear apple round empanadas cooling


notes

If you've cut rectangles, you can fold the dough to form rectangle or squares.

For circles you can fold in half to form half-moons, or put one circle on top of another for a round pie. Be warned: the round pies make really big servings!

rectangles of dough for rectangle pies: maple lime pumpkin inside!

You may need more or less milk or creamer depending on how sticky your dough is. You can also brush the outsides with oils - canola is nice and neutral and olive oil complements many fruits - but something like hazelnut or pumpkin might be unexpected and fun as well!

These transport well and reheat easily at 350 for 10 minutes.

Really do wait a few minutes before eating, as the filling can get incredibly hot.

Experiment with fillings. I was most nervous about the maple lime pumpkin - the most savory and least conventional of the fillings - but it was the surprise favorite of the evening!

moveable feast: empanada dough

empanada dough resting; flour and measuring cups everywhere

Yesterday I made three different empanada fillings; the second step in any great empanada caper is making the dough. I'm a big fan of Terry Hope Romero's empanada recipes, so all credit where credit is due. You can find a more complete and  helpful list of instructions on her site. If you've ever had an interest in vegan Latin cooking, I highly recommend Viva Vegan!


richer wheat dough
makes 12

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp baking powder 

  • 6 TBSP chilled nonhydrogenated vegan margarine 
  • 4 TBSP chilled nonhydrogenated vegan shortening
  • 3⁄4 cup cold water, or more as needed

Whisk together the flour, salt and baking  powder in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry cutter or two forks cut in the shortening and margarine. Add in the water slowly and mix with your hand until a dough forms. Knead for a few minutes until all the dough is incorporated. Divide into two disks, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Small kitchen method: after the dough has fully chilled, divide each disk into 6 equal portions and quickly roll into balls. Press between waxed paper in a tortilla press to form a circle. The circles should be slightly less than 1/2 inch thick. Roll thinner if need be. Stack in between sheets of waxed paper and chill until ready to form the empanadas.


notes

You may be tempted to skip either chilling step. Don't! You'll wind up with a sticky icky mess.

My small kitchen method for making the individual empanada circles is not in the slightest bit traditional, but I have found it easier than rolling out and cutting with limited counter space.

When rolling out and cutting the circles , I use a small bowl as a guide - and please use a butter knife, not a sharp knife! My kitchen and I learned this the hard way. 

A dough scraper comes in handier than I ever thought for lifting the dough circles if they are sticking.

richer wheat empanada dough: cut, not pressed

moveable feast: empanada fillings

Hachiya persimmons at the Grand Lake farmers market

Thanksgiving was never a very big deal in my house growing up, except for the Twilight Zone marathon on KTLA! Seriously, that was the best. These days I pop on whatever episode I want with Netflix, and then settle in for a Millennium marathon with my sweetheart. And even though we do Thanksgiving feasting on the following Saturday, I'm  always excited to go to my omnivorous sweetheart's sister's where, thankfully, there is always something for me to eat.

I'm in charge of breads and desserts each year, and they happily eat both with nary a complaint and only the highest praise for vegan cooking - in fact, they requested a repeat performance by the sweet empanadas I made last year! They get super excited about multiple fillings, so, to ease the process, I take a page from every entertaining handbook ever and make them in stages. Three days before, I make the fillings. Two days before, the dough. And the day before, I assemble and bake the whole shebang.

This year's roster stars saffron pear apple, cinnamon nutmeg persimmon and - the dark horse - maple lime pumpkin. The instructions are all pretty much the same for each filling, just keep an eye out for burning or boiling over.


saffron pear apple

saffron pear apple empanada filling

makes enough for 6

  • 1 pear, quartered and sliced
  • 1 apple, quartered and sliced
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • pinch saffron
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan, bring to a boil and boil gently for 15 minutes, stirring intermittently. Allow the thickened mixture to cool, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the empanadas.


cinnamon nutmeg persimmon

makes enough for 6

cinnamon nutmeg persimmon empanada filling

  • 1 ripe Hachiya persimmon, scooped
  • 2 Fuyu persimmons, quartered and sliced
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ¼tsp cinnamon
  • ¼nutmeg
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan, bring to a boil and boil gently for 15 minutes, stirring intermittently. Allow the thickened mixture to cool, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the empanadas.


maple lime pumpkin 

makes enough for 6 with leftovers

  • 2 cups pumpkin (not pumpkin pie)
  • 6 TBSP sugar
  • 2 TBSP grade B maple syrup
  • 1 TBSP lime juice (about ½ lime)
  • pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive pan, bring to a boil and boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Allow the thickened mixture to cool, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the empanadas.


notes


The saffron pear apple mixture should be a gorgeous dandelion yellow, the cinnamon nutmeg persimmon should be vibrant dark orange, and the maple lime pumpkin should be deep reddish brown. The persimmon filling may develop dark spots as you cook it down, do not panic. And make sure to check for seeds!

They will all thicken even more as they sit. If they separate during storage, pour off the thin liquid or stir it back in; I prefer to pour it off to reduce the chance of empanadas leaking. Use any leftovers stirred into oatmeal, spread on toast or over other roasted fruits! 

Stay tuned for two days before!