Craving that feeling of anticipation you get when you smell something sweet baking in the oven? You know what I’m talking about. Who hasn’t burned their mouth on hot apple pie or fruit crisps because your willpower caved before it was cool enough to devour? I can’t be the only one, so give it up and admit your shortcomings. Today I bring you a simple solution to satisfy those cravings. I do recommend, however, letting them cool a bit to avoid the old tongue burn. Ouch!
I am talking about one of my favorites, empanadas. If you are not familiar with these little taste treats, allow me to explain. Empanar is Spanish for “to bake in pastry,” and these Mexican and Spanish specialties are usually single-serving turnovers with a pastry crust and most often filled with savory meat and vegetable filling. They can also be filled with fruit and served as a dessert. The recipe featured today marries fruit and vegetables producing a delightful treat without being cloyingly sweet. My palate leans to the savory but if you have a relentless sweet tooth, you can control the sweetness by adjusting the amount of sugar you use. The filling in this recipe brings together apple and sweet potato. Both of these ingredients have a natural sweetness so their marriage is one made in heaven. They are highlighted with cinnamon and nutmeg and the addition of toasted pine nuts adds a crunch element that takes it over the top and leaves you wanting more.
If you are like me and want it now! You can skip the making of pastry dough and use a commercial brand of empanada wrappers (which is what I did for this recipe) available at your grocer in the freezer section. If you want to make your own, any pastry recipe you use for pie, turnovers or other desserts will do.
Here is how it goes down.
APPLE AND SWEET POTATO EMPANADAS Makes 1 dozen
2c peeled and diced tart apples such as Granny Smith
1c cooked sweet potato diced
¼c lightly toasted pine nuts
1T all-purpose flour
¾ t cinnamon
¼ t grated nutmeg
1/8 t salt
1T lemon juice
12 empanada wrappers
1 egg beaten w/ 1T water (egg wash)
Confectioners sugar for dusting
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the apples, sweet potatoes and pine nuts with the combined dry ingredients, then toss lightly with the lemon juice until well coated.
- Scoop 2T of filling onto the wrappers and fold over. Seal edges with a fork. Prick the top with a fork to allow steam escape. Place on lightly buttered baking sheet.
- Brush with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
- Serve warm or at room temp, dusted with confectioners sugar.
NOTE: You can make ahead. Prepare recipe through step 3 and refrigerate for up to 24 hrs.
This is just one suggestion for a filling but be creative and fill yours with whatever makes you happy and is in season. I have had peach and blueberry, pear and raspberry, fig and apple for sweet variations. If you want a savory filling, any combination of meat and potato or mushroom, or squash or whatever strikes your fancy. Go crazy and make your own creations! These are fun to make and even more fun to eat whether for dessert or an appetizer, you can’t go wrong.
I will close with the hope that wherever you are you are enjoying the rebirth of spring. For us here in the midwest, winter seems determined to overstay its welcome but we carry on and hopefully fill our homes with great smells that can only come from the joy of cooking.