The Altitude Adjustment Section
This is a delicious seasonal dessert that you can make ahead and freeze and bake right before serving. You can use fresh pumpkin and process it to a smooth puree or you can buy organic pumpkin puree and use that. I personally have never felt that the process, which takes lots of effort, yields a better tasting product, but it's up to you.
I also must add there is an excellent frozen empanada wrapper my Argentinian friend turned me on to. I buy it at Talin market and keep it on hand in the freezer for projects like this. Unfortunately, it is not always available but the brand name is La Saltena. Goya makes them as well, but they are not as light and flakey. There are two kinds and two sizes. I can almost never find the small size so I end up getting the larger circles which are more like a turnover size then an hors d’oeuvre size. You want the ones for baking not the ones for frying. The baking ones say para Horno (the oven) or just make this with simple pastry dough. This recipe makes 24-30 small sized empanadas.
Ingredients for filling
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves with the butter. Stir in the pumpkin and the spices. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure the filling is not too watery; otherwise let it cook for a couple more minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down. After it’s cooled off for about 15 minutes, put the filling in the refrigerator to help it set for 30 minutes or overnight. You can make the dough while the filling is cooling off.
Ingredients for dough
3 cups ap flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crisco vegetable shortening
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the first 3 dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with the dry ingredients. Works better if you use your hands. Add the eggs, milk and sugar. Continue to work in with your hands. Split the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Take out one half of the dough and split it into 12-18 balls of dough. Depending on how small you want your empanadas. Or you can be really efficient and roll out a big sheet of dough and with a circle cutter cut out circles, that's the way we do it in my kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take your dough circles and put a small dollop of filling on one half of the rolled out circle. Wet the bottom edge of the dough with water to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to seal. Seal off the edges with a fork by pressing down along the two edges. This also makes for a pretty pattern when baked. Brush each empanada with egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and puncture each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Line sheet pan with parchment and spray with oil spray. Place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes on middle rack in the oven. If after 15 minutes you notice the bottoms of the empanadas starting to brown, move the cookie sheet to the top rack and continue to bake for the last 5 minutes. Serve with a little brandy whipped cream.