Thursday, September 1, 2011

Caramel Apple Empanadas (or mini pies)

Apples, apples, apples and more apples....everywhere I look my neighbors have TONS of apples on there trees, I have Tons on mine too, they are just small and sour at the moment. Since my neighbor's tree was overflowing with big nice juicy ones, he was kind enought to let me have a bowl full, or two!! I've made my recipe for Caramel Apple Bars, and I was thinking of all the wonderful appley recipes I could make but I was hungry for the Caramel Apple Empanada's that you can get at Taco Bell. So I looked up recipe after recipe on the internet. There were two variations, one which made a pastry dough using Bisquick or refrigerator bisquick dough, but my favorite was the one using your favorite homemade pie crust, or pie crust dough from the store! I made my own pie crust and a half batch of the recipe using bisquick, both tasted close to the same while still warm, but after cooling I liked the texture of the pie crust better. I cut my dough into squares and folded it over to make a semi-circle shape, but they cracked and weren't too pretty. Next time I make these I'm going to use a large canning lid ring and cut 2 circles of dough for each empanada, placing the filling on one and topping it with the other, then crimping the egdes with a fork. Don't forget to poke a hole or two in the top. I think they will be much prettier that way. But the recipe for the caramel apple filling I came up with (by combining what sounded good from two different recipes) was awesome!! It would even be good by itself  as an Ice cream topping... I might have to give that a try sometime..... YUMMO!
The pic on the left is what I'm going to try to make them look like next time I make them.. the one on the right it how mine looked...not as pretty but good.

Caramel Apple Empanada's
3 to 4 cups diced apples
1 Tablespoon Flour
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
dash or two of salt
1/2 cup Kraft Caramel Bits
2 Tablespoons butter (if necessary)

Pie Crust
Cinnamon Sugar

In a large skillet melt the 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. While butter is melting add flour and lemon juice to your apples and toss to combine. Once butter has mostly melted, add your apples and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the brown sugar, seasonings and caramel bits. Stir to combine and continue to cook for 3 to5 minutes more or until your apples are mostly tender and caramel bits have melted.  If your mixture looks a little dry add the other 2 Tablespoons butter and stir until melted, it will smooth out the mixture a little and help give it a creamier texture. Remove from heat.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a large cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper (you could spray with non-stick cooking spray, but I have become a fan of parchment paper lately!)
Roll out your pie crust on a lightly floured surface, and cut into squares if you want triangle shaped. Or read my hint in the recipe introduction above, using the 2 circles of pie crust dough. Fill with a Tablespoon or so of filling, then crimp the edges to seal, poke a hole in the top with fork, and brush each empanada with melted butter or an egg wash  and sprinkle with a generous coating of cinnamon sugar. (I place my dough on the baking sheet and filled them on there, that way I didn't have to try to lift it from the counter to the cookie sheet)
Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm with ice cream.... mmmmmmmmmm.

Here's a good pastry recipe I got out of a pie cookbook I have. It's a European-style pastry mostly used for tarts, but if you keep it cold it works good for these. I think it would work great for the 2 circles of dough method since you wouldn't have to fill it and fold it.

Sweet Butter Pastry
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, cold
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk or half and half
Stir flour, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture by rubbing between your thumb and fingers until butter pieces are the siz of small peas. Combin egg yolk and milk . Add to flour mixture and toss with a fork until mixture start to form a ball. If necessarh, add more milk 1 teaspoon at a time  to crumbs in bottom of bowl. Gather dough in your hands and gently shape into a flat ball. Place flatten ball in a piece of saran wrap and let sit in fridge until ready to make your pastries.
You might want to double this recipe so you have enough dough for the caramel apple filling.

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