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Pumpkin Empanaditas

Servings: Makes 4 1/2 dozen
Empanaditas are the bite size version of the Spanish "Empanada", pronounced "em-pah-NAH-dah OR em-pah-NAH-thah.

Empanar is Spanish for "to bake in pastry," and these Mexican and Spanish specialties are usually single-serving turnovers or cookies with a pastry crust and savory meat-and-vegetable filling. They can also be filled with fruit and served as dessert, as in this recipe for Pumpkin Empanaditas.

Empanadas range in size from the huge empanada gallega, large enough to feed an entire family, to Empanaditas, tiny, ravioli-size pastries.

Serve these little goodies during the holiday season as a "sweet" appetizer or as a light after dinner treat. Great for a Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah gift giving idea.

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice* (see note below)
1/4 cup chopped pecans

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz./226g) cold butter
8 to 10 tablespoons cold water

1 egg
1 teaspoon water

Decoration: (optional)
Coarse decorator sugar

Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened (8 to 12 minutes). Cool completely (45 to 60 minutes). Stir in pecans.

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl; cut in 1 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in enough water until flour is just moistened.

Divide dough in half. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter. Place rounded 1/2 teaspoon filling in center of each circle. Fold one side of circle over other to form crescent-shaped empanaditas. Pinch together lightly to seal. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet; press edges together with tines of fork to seal.

Whisk together egg and 1 teaspoon water in small bowl. Brush egg mixture lightly over tops of empanaditas; repeat. Sprinkle with decorator sugar. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and cloves for the pumpkin pie spice.

Filling can be prepared ahead, covered and refrigerated.

Makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies

Nutrition Facts (1 cookie) Calories: 80, Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 95 mg, Carbohydrates: 10 g, Dietary Fiber: <1 g, Protein: <1 g

Source: Recipe adapted from Land O'Lakes
Date: May 5, 2006