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Friday, October 26, 2012

Empanadas: Apple w/ Almond Paste and Pumpkin w/ Piloncillo & Cinnamon

We're baaaaaaack.  Did you even realize that we were missing?  It's true.  Leslie and I haven't joined forces for She Made, Ella Hace since August (24th - that's over 2 months!) when we baked up a couple of our favorite Pan Dulces.  It's the first time we've skipped a month since we started, but September was a big old ball of life-changing moments for the both of us.  Life, ya know?  Fortunately we're back together this month...and we're making EMPANADAS!
When Leslie suggested we make empanadas this month, I knew I was going to go sweet.  And I pretty much knew that I was probably going to use pumpkin as the filling.  Or maybe apples.  I mean, it's that time of year.  Pumpkins and apple trees dancing in my head.  And when it came right down to it, I couldn't decide.  I wanted both.  So both it was.

The pumpkin filling is spiced with a hint of Mexican cinnamon and sweetened with those beautiful dark, raw sugar cones called Piloncillo.  It's like a decadent little pumpkin pie.  And the apples?  Well, they're caramelized until all golden and sexy.  And then they're combined with almond paste.  I'm a weirdo who eats almond paste from the block.  So I couldn't wait to see how it would combine with the apples.  That heady, creamy flavor of the almond paste is so perfectly mellow against the sweet, tart apple.  I can't pick a favorite.  So don't ask me to.
Since great minds think alike, Leslie had pumpkin on the brain, too.  She made a beautiful batch of Mini Pumpkin Empanada Bites that I know you'll want to dive into.  So pull up a silla (chair) and I'll pour the coffee (or milk.  or booze.  your choice) while you grab an assortment of empanadas!

Empanadas: Pumpkin w/ Piloncillo & Cinnamon and Apple w/ Almond Paste

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes + 1 hour (unattended)
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast dessert snack vegetarian apples almonds pumpkin cinnamon Halloween Thanksgiving Christmas Mexican fall

Ingredients (~2½ dozen)
    for the empanada dough
    • 1 lb. (~3¼ c.) all-purpose flour
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 6 oz. (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cold
    • ½ c. shortening
    • ⅓-⅔ c. ice water
    for Pumpkin w/ Piloncillo & Cinnamon filling
    • 1 c. pumpkin puree
    • ⅓ c. chopped Piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar)
    • ½ tsp. ground Mexican cinnamon
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    for Apple w/ Almond Paste filling
    • 2 Tbs. butter
    • 3 (~1¼ lbs.) apples, peeled & diced into ¼"-½" cubes
    • 3 Tbs. sugar
    • 4 oz. almond paste
    • 2-3 Tbs. water
    • pinch of sea salt
    egg wash
    • 1 egg
    • 1 Tbs. heavy cream
    Begin by making the empanada dough and the fillings. You want time to chill the dough (1 hour) and also to cool the fillings down to room temperature before working with them.

    make the dough:
    Place flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Cut the butter and shortening into small pieces and scatter over the dry mixture. Pulse about 8 times to combine, the fats should be pea-sized (some slightly larger, some slightly smaller). Sprinkle ⅓ cup of the ice water over and pulse a few times. The mixture should start to clump and come together, if it doesn't dribble in a bit more ice water at a time and pulse again. Dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and gather into a ball. Wrap in the plastic and form into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    make the fillings:
    To make the pumpkin filling, stir everything together in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Once mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat and simmer gently (stir often) until very thick, ~15 minutes. Basically what you're doing here is letting the water in the pumpkin evaporate while the filling concentrates and dries out a bit. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

    To make the apple and almond paste filling, melt the butter in a wide skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to brown, add the apples and sprinkle the sugar over them. Stir often and allow apples to becomes tender and caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Place the almond paste into a mini-food processor with the water and salt and whiz until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency. Set aside.
    make the empanadas:
    Remove dough from fridge and cut in half. Re-wrap and return half to fridge. Roll dough out on a lightly floured work surface into a thin rectangle that measures ~12"x16". Cut out twelve 3½"-4" circles. Brush the edges of the circles lightly with water.

    Spoon a scant tablespoon of the pumpkin mixture in the center of each circle. Fold dough over the filling and press edges together to seal. Seal tightly by pressing the edges together with the tines of a fork or by twisting into a "rope". Prick once or twice with the fork. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    Gather up the extra dough and set it in the fridge while you work with the other half.

    Repeat process with second half of dough, adding 1 teaspoon of the almond paste topped with 2 teaspoons of the apples.

    If you like, gather up all of the remaining dough from both times and re-roll it. I am able to make about 33 total empanadas, using all of the dough and filling (but the ones only rolled out once are always more tender and flakey). Place the trays of formed empanadas into the fridge or freezer for one hour.
    Preheat oven to 425° F. Beat the egg with the cream.

    Slide a tray into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes (20 if they were in the freezer) or until they start to get a little color. Remove from oven and brush with egg wash. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes or so until golden. Repeat with remaining tray. Best while still warm (but still good later).

    The fillings and the dough can be made a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge, covered.

    The filled and formed empanadas can be frozen on parchment-lined baking sheets until solid. Transfer them to a freezer bag. Bake from frozen (20 minutes, then brush with egg wash, 5 more minutes).

    adapted from Fiesta at Rick's
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    What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

    Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

    Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
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    F.O.T.M.C.: Pumpkin
    FOTM at La Cocina de Leslie foodiebutton2 Foodiefridaymark-1