Friday, February 24, 2012

Recipe Round-Up: Pineapple Empanadas

"Nuggets of Latino Love," that's what I call these beauties. They are flaky and soft and full of sweet, rich flavor. They are absolutely to-die-for with a hot cup of coffee. And best yet, they are super simple to make.

I recently made a batch for a party my mom was hosting. I told her I would be her caterer if she would let me make these for her guests. I mean, who doesn't want soft, buttery dough wrapped around sweet, warm pineapple puree with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top? My thoughts exactly.

By the end of the evening, these love nuggets were completely consumed. This is proof that they are great for parties. But they are also great for slow, Saturday mornings when you can eat a couple or nine with your morning joe. I love how versatile they can be.

So let me show you how to whip these up!

Start with pineapple juice (from a can) and corn starch. Add them both to a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until dissolved. Then add the sugar and stir until it begins to boil, thickening as it heats.

After a few minutes, it should look like this: thick and creamy.

Next up: add the pineapple. Usually I add crushed pineapple, but today I only had chunks. If you use larger pieces, you will want to cut them up or use a mixer to break them apart.

Set this aside to cool. Your filling is finito!

SIDE NOTE: You can make any filling that floats your boat! Cherry, apple, peach, you name it! I have even used dark chocolate. And yes, it was fabulous.

Now, let's make the dough. This dough is amazing and do you know why? Because it is full of butter AND cream cheese. Oh yes it is.

Start with room temperature cream cheese and butter. Make sure they are soft otherwise your dough will not come together. Once the cream cheese and butter are mixed, add flour and a pinch of salt. Form together with your hands and knead on the counter top for 1 minute.

Form the kneaded dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Set it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Once your dough is chilled, grab a round cookie cutter (I use a 2 1/2" diameter juice glass because I am classy), your rolling pin and flour. Sprinkle the counter and the rolling pin with flour to ensure the dough doesn't stick.

Then roll it right on out. I keep my dough a little thicker than a pie crust.

Then just cut away! Any left over dough can be rolled out again and cut until all the dough is used. This should make about 32 circles, depending on the thickness of your dough and the size of your cutter.

SIDE NOTE: You can make these much larger if you choose. Hand pies are all the rage right now.

Place the dough rounds on a greased cookie sheet and fill with 1 teaspoon of pineapple puree. Oh baby.

Fold them over, like so.

And crimp the edges with a fork. Be sure to include both layers of dough otherwise your pineapple will ooze out.

For the topping, beat one egg white in a bowl and combine sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Brush the tops with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar mixture. This extra touch sends these empanadas over the top! Trust me on this.

Then pop them in the oven for 15 minutes. Try not to drool and stare at them while they bake.

Once the timer goes off, these babies are ready! They will come out of the oven warm, flaky and delicious. You will not be able to eat just one! And the crunchy sugar and cinnamon on top is the perfect compliment to the soft dough and juicy pineapple.

Is anyone else hungry now?

Pile on plate and share. Or not. Your choice.
Either way, make a batch this weekend.

Pineapple Empanadas
Modified from William's Sonoma "Mexico" Cookbook
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups flour
pinch of salt

Pineapple filling:
1/2 cup pineapple juice
2 Tbsp corn starch
3 Tbsp sugar
8 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 egg white, beaten
sugar and cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 375-degrees and grease a baking sheet. To make the dough, in a bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter until well blended. Add the flour and salt and mix well. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead for about 1 minute, then form into a ball. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk the pineapple juice and corn starch together in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the corn starch is dissolved. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil, continuing to stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture becomes quite thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the crushed pineapple. Let cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until about 1/4 in thick. Cut in 3-inch rounds (or smaller, if desired). Place on baking sheet and drop about 1 tsp. filling in the center of each round. Fold one side over the filling, seal tightly with your fingers, then crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops with the beaten egg white, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Serve warm. To store, keep them in an air-tight container at room temperature.



  1. Your photos look just as good as all that food you make!

  2. These sound and look amazing...I will definitely be making them soon! -Heather

  3. They look delish ! I'll be making these for Thanksgiving!

  4. I have to extend the biggest and most enormous THANK YOU to you for these!!!! When i was growing up, my grandmother made these (they were hand pies) each Christmas morning. When she died, my mom tossed out her recipe box. Well in the last 15 years, i've searched and searched and tried to recreate them for my sister and i. I got close once, but they weren't quite right and i wound up loosing the recipe in a move. So imagine my surprise to come across this in searching a few weeks ago. These are the BEST and closest match to hers!! I did alter the topping to what she did, but it's for sentimental purposes. Thank you so much for this recipe!! I forwarded it to my sister so that she can recreate them with her family!! I'm so happy i could literally cry!! I tried with cookies too this year, and none came out like hers did. Anyway, this just made my year, and was by far the best gift i could have ever asked for!!!! THANK YOU!!!!! Blessings to you and your family this holiday season!!

    1. Dear Love Happens,
      I can't tell you how much I loved reading your comment. It almost made ME cry! I am so glad you are enjoying the empanadas. It is amazing how tastes and flavors can make us think of those closest to us. Food holds such sweet memories. I hope this Christmas is filled with joy, peace and wonderful memories of your grandmother. Thank you again for passing on such kind words. - Sarah