This recipe comes courtesy of Oaktown Spice Shop Castro Valley Manager Charlotte Oelerich.
We love empanadas in my household, and what’s not to love? The buttery crunch of pastry, your favorite fillings, they're not too big, but small enough that you can eat two (or more...), and still feel good about it! You can even get away with whipping up a batch of cream, and dunking these lovelies!
To help you celebrate Día de los Muertos, I chose sweet potatoes as a perfect autumnal filling, but you could also select pumpkin or butternut squash. I paired those with some of my all-time favorite warming spices, and used the caramel flavor of Piloncillo for some sugary deliciousness. My seven-year old assures me that they are better than she expected, and wonders when we will make more!
They fill me with childhood memories of baking with my Grandma, a time to relish her homemade food; while remembering the flavors of cinnamon, ginger and cloves that would fill her small farm kitchen.
The final blend of sweet potato, Piloncillo, cinnamon, anise, cloves, ginger and a sparkle of nutmeg will give you and yours a big, warm hug with time to remember all the family and friends who have been there to spice up your life.
Note: If you can't find piloncillo, you can substitute dark brown sugar.
Sweet Potato Empanadas
Makes 12 empanadas.
1 teaspoon yeast⅓ cup warm milk½ stick butter, melted and cooled2 ½ cups all purpose flour2 lightly beaten eggs¼ cup sugar¼ tsp salt (I used Hawaiian Red)
2 lbs sweet potato 5 oz Piloncillo1 Ceylon Cinnamon stick1-2 teaspoons Ceylon Cinnamon½ teaspoon ground cloves1 teaspoon whole anise seed1 teaspoon ginger, ground2 tablespoons applesauce (optional)
1 egg1 tablespoon milk1 teaspoon Ceylon Cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Prepare the dough: Let the yeast and warm milk sit for 5 minutes. Mix all other ingredients. Add the yeast/milk mixture. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth. Let the dough rest in a covered oiled bowl for 1 ½ hours.
Make the filling: In a large saucepan, cover the sweet potatoes with water and add a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Save 1 cup of the water, then drain the potatoes, discard the cinnamon stick and peel off the skin. Cut into cubes.
Dissolve the piloncillo with ¼ cup of the saved water. If your piloncillo is very hard, you can cook it in the water over low heat to help it dissolve. Add the dissolved piloncillo to the sweet potato. Cook on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.
Add the spices and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add more of the saved water as needed and mash the potato to get a smooth texture. If using, add the applesauce.
After the dough has rested, knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap. One at a time, roll a ball into a 7” circle. Add ¼ cup of the sweet potato filling. Fold over into a half-moon shape. Crimp the edge with a fork.
Add the topping: beat the egg and add the 1 tablespoon of milk. Brush over all empanadas. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the empanadas.
Bake at 375 for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy!
Here's an alternative, quicker dough if desired.
1-2 teaspoons whole anise seeds1 cinnamon stick3 cups all purpose flour1 teaspoon baking powder½ teaspoon salt (I used Hawaiian red)¼ cup sugar1 stick of cold butter, cut into cubes
Boil 1 cup of water for 1 minute with 1-2 teaspoons of anise seeds, and a cinnamon stick. Use a sieve to filter out seeds and cinnamon. Save water. Use a food processor to pulse together the dry ingredients. Add the saved water 2 tablespoons at a time. You will not use all the water.
When the dough comes together, remove from the food processor and knead it for 2-3 minutes. Let rest under plastic wrap for 5-10 minutes. Divide into 12 balls and cover with plastic wrap.
Roll each into 7” circle. Add ¼ cup of sweet potato filling. Fold over into a half-moon shape. Crimp the edge with a fork. Follow the directions above to add the egg wash and spiced sugar topping. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. Enjoy!
January 27, 2022
Thanks for reaching out! This recipe will yield 12 empanadas.
Can you provide an approximate yield for this recipe please? (how many “each”). Thank you!
November 29, 2020
I made these with butternut squash. Next time I would use half the cinnamon because it’s a bit overpowering for my personal taste.
November 03, 2020
I made a gluten-free and vegan version of the sweet potato empanadas, using a pie dough recipe from Alana Taylor-Tobin’s Alternative Baking book. Just had one for breakfast on the Dia de Los Muertos. Delicious!
These sound amazing! And since my husband is not fond of pumpkin, I will serve these as part of Thanksgiving dessert! Thanks for the recipe!
October 30, 2020
This sounds delightfully delicious!! I’m gonna share with my cooking class. I hope the instructor will consider using it for our next class! Thanks for sharing!!!
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This cake is made with a variety of warming spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, and cloves. All of these spices create a flavor profile similar to chai, while enhancing the natural sweetness of the carrots, and bringing out the notes of caramel in the brown butter cream cheese frosting.