Sorry dudes, pumpkin isn’t a trend; it’s a lifestyle. And when it’s mixed with homemade salted caramel, wrapped up in a thick, crispy, cinnamon-sugary dough and served hot & toasty right out of the oven, it’s practically a religion.
For months now I’ve been glaring at the unrelenting Los Angeles sun from the inside of my air conditioned kitchen, waiting for colder days to come so that I could make all of my favorite soul-warming foods. We’ve had a glimmer of hope this past week from the crisp chill that settles over the city late at night and lingers until early morning but by midday it still feels like the Fourth of Freaking July out here. I’ve decided to rebel by wearing scarves, making all the cozy food my heart desires and pretending like winter actually exists.
You see, “cozy” is my preferred state of being and these salted caramel pumpkin empanadas are just that. Biting into one of these is like biting into a warm slice of pumpkin pie, but with more flaky, buttery, sugar-coated crust per capita. Drooling yet? I edited my basic empanada dough recipe by adding a little extra sugar and, of course, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon & sugar before I popped these plump pockets of love into the oven. Serve with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of salted caramel sauce for a truly decadent dessert.
What are YOU making for Thanksgiving? Have you ever made sweet empanadas? Will you try these? Tag me on Instagram or Twitter if you do: @cocinadecella
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp ginger, ½ tsp nutmeg)
Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and pumpkin pie spice to a high-speed food processor. Pulse to combine.
Add cold butter and shortening and pulse until just combined. Pour dough into a bowl.
Add half of the egg/water combination to the bowl and mix until combined. Continue to add the egg/water mixture to the dough as needed (I used about ¾). Place in fridge to cool for an hour.
Add the pumpkin puree, salted caramel and pumpkin pie spice and mix until combined. Let cool for 30 min in fridge before assembling empanadas.
When it is time to start assembling the empanadas, prepare your station and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place saran wrap or a silpat baking mat on the counter to help you roll out the dough. Also, place wax paper or foil on your baking sheet so you are ready to go.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into golf-ball sized balls. As you roll the dough into balls, knead it a little to soften it up. Let dough balls sit for five minutes.
Use a rolling pin or your hands to roll out each dough ball out until it has reached about 6 inches in diameter. Be sure to flip it over at least once as you roll it out -- this gets the dough soft and makes it less likely to crack.
Place 2-3 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each disc. Sometimes I put it in the center and sometimes I favor one side, to make it easier to flip the other side on top of it and encase all of the filling.
Dip your finger in water and trace the edge of the one side of the disc to help the sides stick together.
Flip one side over on top of the other and press firmly around the edges to make sure there aren’t any openings.
At this point you can either braid the edges (which I’m still learning to do) or just press the prongs of a fork around them.
In a separate dish, mix an egg yolk with a bit of water. Brush this over your empanadas before baking to give them a crispy, golden brown exterior. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Wait a few minutes to eat because will be hot! Serve with freshly whipped cream and the leftover Mexican Salted Caramel
If they don’t get eaten immediately, store in the fridge and bake again to reheat.
One of my earliest memories of childhood is waking up to the smell of coffee and tiptoeing downstairs to find my mom curled up by a crackling fireplace, wrapped in a pink terrycloth robe, reading the Pasadena Star news and nibbling on one of her staple breakfasts. Sometimes it was a small plate of Famous Amos cookies (best breakfast ever); on healthier days, it was grapefruit with cottage cheese; and on my favorite days, it was toasted Wonderbread spread with thick layers of cajeta, a Mexican-style caramel.
In its most basic form, caramel is really just sugar that has been cooked into submission — which is probably why it’s so goddamn delicious. Add some butter (nature’s gold), a generous pour of heavy cream and a dash of sea salt, and you’ve got yourself a blissful treat. I wanted to use caramel as a sweetener for a special Mexican recipe I was developing and I knew the only way to create authentic flavor would be to incorporate a little anise, cinnamon and piloncillo into the sauce. The result was as heavenly and indulgent as I knew it would be. My favorite part, though, was the scent of cinnamon and anise wafting through each room in my house; warm spices like these always feel like a long-lost friend during the chilly fall and winter months.
Toss with some warm apples and bake into a pie, drizzle over your favorite ice cream or pour into a dish for pumpkin pie dipping pleasures this Thanksgiving.
Then again, I guess you could just wait and see how I used it in my next recipe — coming soon ;)
Have you made caramel before? What is your absolute favorite thing to put caramel on?
Mexican Salted Caramel
12 oz piloncillo
1 large or 2 small cinnamon sticks
2 stars of anise
6 tbs butter
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon of sea salt
Place the piloncillo, cinnamon sticks and anise in a saucepan with one cup of water over high heat. Boil until the piloncillo cones disintegrate, stirring occasionally.
Bring down to medium heat and let sit for 20-30 minutes, until sauce reaches desired thickness.
Bring the heat back up to high and add the butter. Whisk quickly, until combined. Remove from heat.
Add the cream and sea salt. Whisk until combined and allow to cool before eating. ¡Buen provecho!