Easy Pineapple Empanadas
I have been avid empanada lover my entire life. When I was little, my Abuela and I would go to the Spanish market by her house and score some absolutely delicious guava pastries. When I was a bit older, I was devoted to the idea of having an empanada truck. After a few years as a pastry chef though, I decided waking up at 4am is for the birds and I wanted a 9-5.
Despite giving up on my empanada truck dream, I still love making them. However, I am a cheater. I have never liked real empanada dough and I LOVE pie crust. So I surrender proper Cuban-ness and use pie crust (normally pre-made) as the dough. It turns out flaky, crispy and buttery and I contest, better than the original.
And while I cheat in the dough department, I do think making a homemade filling is worth the time. If you are slammed, you could always pick out a preserve you love and fill pie crust with that. I do humbly recommend trying this pineapple filling at least once though! It is insanely divine and no jarred preserve is going to touch that.
These are perfect as a sweet breakfast treat or with a little cafecito in the afternoon. I freeze them and toast them back up as well- they aren't quite as good as they are fresh but I still love them.
Bueno, time for the deliciousness...
Easy Pineapple Empanadas
Yield: 10 empanadas (depending on size)
1/4 cup of water
1.5 cups frozen pineapple chunks
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp of cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp of cold water
1 premade pie crust*
1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water (you can use water if you are vegan)
Cinnamon Sugar blend (2 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon)
Remove one pie crust roll from the fridge and let sit on the counter as you make the filling.
In a medium saucepan with a lid, add the water and frozen pineapple chunks. Stirring every so often, warm the pineapple over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, covered, or until the pieces are thawed and you can split them with a spatula or spoon.
Once the pineapple is thawed, break apart the pieces with a spoon and cook uncovered until the mixture thickens and most the water evaporates.
Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar, the cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Cook for a minute or two or until the sugar dissolved. Blend the filling with an immersion blender until almost smooth (or you could use a blender- transfer the mix back to the saucepan after pureeing).
Add the cornstarch and water mixture to the pineapple and heat over low, stirring constantly until thickened into a preserve texture.
Remove the filling from the heat and let cool in the fridge while the oven heats and you roll out your dough.
Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
Unroll the dough you set out on a lightly floured cutting board.
You will cut the dough into circles depending on the size of empanadas you want. I like smaller empanadas, so I cut circles using a water glass which is about 2 1/2" wide. This size will yield around 10 empanadas. Cut the circles the size you want and then lightly roll out the dough about a 1/2 inch wider. You can gather the dough scraps and re-roll the dough out to cut additional circles.
Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each round.
Brush the egg mixture (or water if vegan) around one edge of the dough circle using a pastry brush. Press the edges together with your fingers and then use the back of a fork to seal and crimp the dough.
Transfer the empanada to a baking tray lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
Brush the empanada with the egg mix and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
With a sharp knife, cut three little slits on the top of each empanada so the steam can release as they bake.
Transfer the tray to the oven and cook the empanadas for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the empanadas from the oven and let cool 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cook completely.
Enjoy piping hot or warm in a toaster oven later that day to crisp them up!
*The premade crusts normally come in a box of 2. This filling will make enough for empanadas from one of the rolls. If you want to select a vegan crust option like Immaculate Conception, you can make these vegan empanadas. I don't love that crust as much, so you could also make a vegan pie crust from scratch if you prefer!