by Julie Snyder
Empanadas are incredibly versatile filled turnovers.
They can be savory or sweet, baked or fried.
We've chosen a sweet, baked version, perfect to end a Southwest meal.
Your guests will scarcely be able to wait to get their hands on these sweet, little pastries filled with apple-cinnamon goodness.
They make perfect hand-held treats, or you can serve them plated with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
Apple and cinnamon empanadas
Prep time: 25 minutes | Total time: 2 hours | Yield: 16 servings
For the empanada dough:
• 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
• 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, plus extra if needed
• 1 egg or two egg yolks
• 1 tablespoon water
For the apple filling:
• 4 Rome or Gala apples, chopped
• 1/2 cup raisins
• 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 cup rum or port wine or dark grape juice
• juice and zest of 1 lemon
• 1 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• 1 tablespoon white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Crack the egg and beat slightly. Add the water, salt and sugar to the eggs, mixing thoroughly. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, using two knives or a pastry blender, cut the cold butter into the flour. Alternatively, combine them in the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly.
Add the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour onto a breadboard and knead 10 to 12 strokes. Set the dough aside.
Place the chopped apples in a saucepan. Add the raisins, butter, wine or juice, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar and stir to mix. Cook over medium heat until the apples are just tender, about 7 to 9 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Add the cornstarch mixture to the apples and cook, stirring until the mixture starts to thicken. Chill the apple mixture, stirring occasionally for at least an hour or overnight.
Shape the empanadas. Divide the dough into 2 batches and roll out on a floured surface to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the dough into circles about 4" in diameter, using a cutter or a cup turned upside down.
Wet the edge of a dough circle slightly around its perimeter. Place a scant tablespoon of apple filling in the middle of the dough. Fold the circle in half, enclosing the filling and pinch the edges together to seal. Flatten the edges slightly and fold over. Using a fork, crimp the edges to ensure that it doesn't pop open while baking. Repeat until you run out of dough.
Use the excess juices from the apple filling to lightly coat the tops of the empanadas. Bake until the crust is a light golden brown, about 14 to 16 minutes.
For an even easier dessert, you can buy frozen empanada discs in many supermarkets or Latin markets. They have paper separators, and when defrosted, are ready to fill and bake.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.