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Apple-Cinnamon Empanadas

Servings: Makes 10-12 empanadas
What are Empanadas?

Definition: [em-pah-NAH-dah; em-pah-NAH-thah] Empanar is Spanish for "to bake in pastry," and these Mexican and Spanish specialties are usually single-serving turnovers with a pastry crust and savory meat-and-vegetable filling. They can also be filled with fruit and served as dessert. Empanadas range in size from the huge empanada gallega, large enough to feed an entire family, to empanaditas--tiny, ravioli-size pastries.

From The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

These empanadas (called turnovers in English) make a great snack or dessert, or serve them at breakfast with coffee, tea or hot cocoa. If desired, other fruits besides apples can be used, such as cherries, peaches, or blueberries. If you're in a hurry, canned or jarred pie filling can be used instead of making a homemade filling such as what is used in this recipe, or if you're in a REALLY BIG HURRY, you can use refrigerated pie crusts such as Pillsbury pie crusts, and just cut out the dough for the empanadas with a round cookie cutter. If desired, you can make smaller "empanaditas", cutting the dough into 2 to 2 1/2-inch circles with a round cookie cutter and serve these as an hors d'oeuvre (an appetizer).

3 firm baking apples (such as Granny Smith)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco)
6 tbsp. water

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Coat 1 or 2 nonstick cookie sheets with cooking spray or line regular (not nonstick) cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

For Filling:
Peel and core apples. Slice apples into quarters. Slice each quarter across the narrow side into thin slices.

Place the apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the apples are soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Place in refrigerator to cool.

For Pastry:
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until pieces are the size of small peas. Add a small amount of water to slightly moisten. Form dough into a ball.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and using a 3 1/2-inch to 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut out dough circles. Take the dough scraps, work them together, reroll, and cut out as many circles as possible. If you have extra dough scraps, cut out small apple shaped designs to place on top of each empanada for a decorative look.

To Assemble:
Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Place a large spoonful of the apple mixture in the center of each dough circle. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the egg wash around the edge of half of each circle of dough, about 1/3-inch from the edge. Fold the dough over the filling so that the edges meet and using the tines of a fork, press the edges together.

Arrange the empanadas 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. If you made small apple shaped designs with extra dough scraps, place them on top of each empanada now. Lightly brush tops of empanadas with egg wash. Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the empanadas from oven and let them sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 10-12 empanadas.

Date: October 24, 2006