Thursday, January 26, 2012

Empanadas de Calabaza (Pumpkin Empanadas)

In my last post I said I was going to make pumpkin empanadas using that huge pumpkin my grandmother gave me. Empanadas  are basically stuffed pastries that are baked or fried. They are very common in Latin American countries as well as southern Europe and southeast Asia. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanadas are made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. The stuffing can consist of a variety of meats, cheeses, vegetables or fruits among others.

Empanadas are really easy to make. They can be make savory or sweet. They can be large entree size, or they can be small bite size. There are many recipes out there and I chose to do this one


3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Cinnamon (optional)
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup warm water

4 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 beaten egg


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

I didn't have any parchment paper, so I didn't use any. I didn't have any stick to the pan, but it might be a good idea to use it if you have it.

 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

Adding cinnamon is optional. It was not in the original recipe but I LOVE cinnamon, so I added it. I put in 1 large tablespoon of cinnamon. You can add however much you want.

Then cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles crumbs.

 I just used a spoon and scooped the shortening all around the bowl, then I used a pastry cutter to mix in the shortening until it resembles course crumbs as seen below.

Stir water in 2 tablespoons at a time, just until you can gather the dough together. Knead the dough a few times in the bowl, then scrape it out onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into quarters and then cut each quarter into thirds to make 12 equal portions. 

 The recipe says that it will make 12 servings. You can make 12 large empanadas, or 24 medium empanadas, or a whole bunch of small epanadas. It's all up to your liking. I made medium sized and small empanadas so some of the 12 dough balls were slit in half. Like I said, it's all up to what you want to make.

Cover the dough balls and let rest while you make the filling.

I found that the dough was a lot more manageable if you wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. I would say at leas one hour. I actually let mine in the fridge overnight.

Mix the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves together until smooth.

I didn't have any ground cloves so I added ground nutmeg...why not.

On a floured surface roll each dough ball our into a thin circle about 6 inches across. Spoon 1/3 cup of filling into the center of the dough circle. Fold the dough over the filling to make a half moon shaped pie and crimp the edges of the crust together with a fork, leaving fork lines in the dough.

I did not make them 6 in across, so I did not use 1/3 cup of filling. I used more like 1-2 tablespoons.

You can also use an empanada mold to fold and crimp your empanadas.

Gently lay the empanadas onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush the tops of each empanada with beaten egg. 

Bake in the preheated oven until the filling is hot and the crusts are shiny and browned, about 20 minutes.

I baked mine in the middle rack and it took a bit longer than 20 minutes to bake. You just have to keep your eye on them. These were not going to a party or going to be given away as a gift, so I wasn't too picky with how they looked. My stomach doesn't really care if one is torn or I didn't crimp tight enough and its leaking. Just be careful not to over stuff with filling or you will have some leakage and tears in the dough....well I did.

I also made mini bite size empanadas with a small mold.

Serve warm with ice cream for dessert or at room temperature with coffee in the morning for breakfast. You can also reheat them in the microwave if wanted.

Like all recipes, you can play around with the ingredients in both the crust and the filling (eg. take out or add more sugar). If you are going to make a savory empanada, you might want to omit all or some of the sugar in the crust. A good filling for savory empanadas is taco meat. Just use some ground meat with onion, peppers, and taco seasoning. Serve with  crema fresca and/or guacamole

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