It seems like almost every time I turn on the food network, someone is making some version of empanadas. I finally couldn’t take it any more and decided to get in on the action. I mean, how can you go wrong with something that you can eat with one hand and no fork?
I’ve seen every version on tv from breakfast to dinner to dessert. The meat filled ones really intrigue me. I’ve seen them with pulled pork inside, ground beef seasoned to the hilt, and while I can’t wait to try these, I figured a dessert one was the easiest place to start.
I hunted around online for a dough recipe, and after a few little tweaks to make measuring more streamlined, I came up with my own dough.
Then it was time for the filling.
I had every intention of finding a recipe. I believe I’ve said before that I suffer from some maddening anxiety when I just wing things, but it was really early when I decided to make these up, and Oliver was running around like a banshee, and Anna was going to wake up at any moment, so I did just that. I winged it. I also remembered to keep track of exactly what I added, in case it turned out.
You know what. It really did turn out great. So great that I think I gave myself a 10,000 point confidence boost. I may just try this winging it thing again some day
If you haven’t seen or heard of empanadas before (to a lot of us Canadians these are very new), they’re like little pies, only the fillings range from snack or dessert, to full on dinner. I’ve fallen maddeningly in love with the empanada.
First off you’ve got to make your dough. Throw half a cup of softened butter and half a package (4oz) cream cheese into a bowl. If you forget to take it out of the fridge to soften you can be like me and put the block of cheese, and the butter cut into tablespoon sized pieces on a small plate and microwave it for 7 seconds.
Beat it until smooth
Add the cup of flour.
Beat it until the dough comes together, Yep, that’s it.
Shape it into a flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Then toss it in the fridge while we make the filling.
Get yourself some apples, I used 6 small ones.
Toss 1/4 cup of walnut pieces (the really tiny ones) in a pan and toast lightly. I love toasted nuts. I love the soft crunch that you get from them, I love the change in flavor. You simply can not go wrong in baking when you toast your nuts.
Peel your apples and dice them up. Here’s a trick for speed: do not core your apple. Peel it, then sit it on it’s top (more sturdy) and make four slices around the core to get four big chunks of apple, then simply dice up those chunks. SO much faster. And less frustrating. I have yet to find an apple corer that was easy to use.
Make the dice fairly small because these are going into tiny little pies.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a pan and cook until just starting to brown (this adds a bit more of a nutty flavor).
Toss in your apples and give then a good stir to get coated in the butter.
Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and stir it in.
Add 1/4 cup of white sugar and stir it in.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples have softened and the liquid thickened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and stir it all in until well combined.
Come on, this is looking pretty good, right!
All that’s left is to stir in the toasted nuts.
Now, put the cooked filling in a bowl and set aside. Get the dough out of the fridge, and roll it out on a well floured counter. You want it to be nice and thin, about 1/8” thick.
Use a 4” round cookie cuter and cut as many circles as you can (I re-rolled the scraps once). Put 1 level tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle. I got 22 in total, and I had exactly 22 tablespoons of filling. It was just meant to be, this recipe, I’m telling you! Once that’s done, brush a little bit of water around the edge of the circle to help it stick together, then fold to form a half moon. Press the edges together very well to make sure the filling won’t leak out.
Place them on a parchment paper or mat lined pan and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, until lightly browned.
While the empanadas are baking, mix together 1/3 cup of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I know, you were thinking we were done, and then I went and made them even better.
Perfectly cooked empanadas straight out of the oven.
Note: this is what happens when you don’t check that the edges are well sealed. Don’t worry though, I ate that one so no one would see, lol. While they’re piping hot, give them a quick roll in the cinnamon sugar, then set on a cooking rack.
Yep, they taste just as good as they look. Better maybe.
Closer, did you say? How about an inside shot too? Look at how flaky that dough is. It defies all reasoning.
I’m pretty sure that I need to make some more of these today. In fact, I’m almost positive.
Here’s the printable:
- ½ cup butter, softened
- ½ package (4oz) cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup flour
- 6 small apples, peeled, cored and diced small
- ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted
- 3 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- dash nutmeg
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat your oven to 375ºF, with a rack in the middle position.
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the flour and beat until the dough comes together.
- Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
- While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling. Melt the butter until just starting to brown, then add the diced apples. Give them a good stir to make sure they are coated in the butter. Add the brown sugar and white sugar, giving a good stir after each addition. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are softened and the liquid has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice, stirring well to evenly incorporate. Turn off the heat and stir in the toasted nuts. Remove the filling to a bowl.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out, on a very well floured counter, until very thin, about ?" thick.
- Use a 4" round cookie cutter to cut as many circles as you can, and re-roll the scraps once.
- Place 1 level tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle.
- Wet the edges of the circles with water, then fold into a half moon and press the edges together well. Place the folded empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
- While the empanadas are baking, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. As soon the empanadas come out of the oven roll them in the cinnamon and sugar, then set on a cooling rack. Be careful here because they're very hot.