Tag Archives: Dessert

Mexican Style Sweet Empanadas~ Pineapple Apple- Toasted Coconut

You know the term “If it’s not broken, why fix it”? For many years I enjoyed the luxury of my Mom’s homemade Mexican style empanadas. Filled with pumpkin, pineapple and cajeta (dulce de leche). I know the dough recipe had few ingredients and that it had the texture of a more dense version of pie dough. By the time I wanted to learn her recipe, I had married and moved a thousand miles away. Mom had recipes written down, but finding them was a different task all together. My first attempts at re-creating her version was not the best. Then for many years I was preparing empanadas with a recipe my tia from Mexico shared with us. One of the main ingredients was beer?  And why not beer? Beer is great for baking breads, why not an empanada. At first I strictly used that recipe for savory empanadas. Then one day I just went for it and prepared a batch of beer dough and filled it with freshly sliced fruit, dark chocolate chips and dulce de leche caramel. Wow! For a few years I became an expert at that recipe filling it with all kinds of fillings, both sweet and savory. I think that it works for both as I  only use a light beer in the dough recipe so it’s not too strong once  baked.

Mexican style sweet empanadas filled with pineapple, apple and toasted coconut. Just add coffee or tea!
Mexican style sweet empanadas filled with pineapple, apple and toasted coconut. Just add coffee or tea!

By 2009, I had lost both of my parents and with that the hopes of having my Mom show me how she prepared her recipe hands on.  In 2011 I was blessed with a return trip to Monterrey, Mexico to visit family. And fortunate for me, I am blessed to still have my Mom’s sisters, three of which live in Monterrey and can bake like nobody’s business! Lol! While I was there I stayed with my tia Miné and we spent many hours cooking together. It was because of those times, that I am no longer afraid to cook using my pressure cooker, ha, ha, ha! I love it! My tia prepared a batch of sweet empanadas with that dough, that dough recipe that I so longed for and wanted to learn all about it. And I did. I came home from Mexico, just off the plane, jet lagged and all and no sooner got back into my kitchen and prepared some empanadas with what I had learned. My tia’s measurements, much like my Mom’s were never quite exact, old school cooking at it’s best! So, as I went along, I experimented with the recipe now and them. I was always happy with the results after baking the empanadas, but the dough itself just was not that easy to work with when filling and sealing.

Fresh fruit filling prepared from scratch
Fresh fruit filling prepared from scratch

Finally, just a few weeks ago, I experimenting one more time. This is it! I love the results of this dough. You still have to be gentle when handling it, but it works much better. I had less cracks while it was baking and they stayed intact. I make it sound like all the other tries simply fell apart, lol! They didn’t, but they just did not look as nice as my tia’s empanadas. They were beautiful even before I baked them.

I was never completely convinced about the empanada dough recipe I had learned a couple of years back, so I kept trying until I found one that I was very happy with!
I was never completely convinced about the empanada dough recipe I had learned a couple of years back, so I kept trying until I developed one that I was very happy with!

Revised Empanada Dough Recipe

*For Sweet Baked Empanadas

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
~~~~
1/2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup shortening
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup water
1/2 cup fine sugar
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

You will also need
3 cups of filling. It should be thick and not runny at all.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

This is my newest mix for empanada filling. Fresh pineapple, tart apples and toasted unsweetened coconut. Tasty!!
This is my newest mix for empanada filling. Fresh pineapple, tart apples and toasted unsweetened coconut. Tasty!!

Pineapple, Apple and Toasted Coconut Filling

4 cups pineapple, finely diced
2 cups tart apple, finely diced
1 cup brown sugar or piloncillo
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water
* make a slurry of cornstarch and water. Mix until smooth.

Directions For Filling

Add all of the ingredients to a skillet, minus the cornstarch and water. Heat to medium. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and continue cooking for a good 40 to 50 minutes. Taste for sugar along the way. Once it has broken down and reduced, whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Cook for 5 more minutes.  You know your filling is thick enough when you can run a spatula down the center of pan and it stays on either side of pan without running back to the middle. Remove from heat and let cool. This recipe is enough for about 40 small empanadas more or less. Freeze leftover filling in a heavy freezer bag.

*You can use this same formula to make the filling using a variety of fresh fruits, such as mango, pears, blueberries, raspberries….. You can search my blog for different variations to empanada recipes.

I really enjoy mixing in different fruits to create a new flavor.
I really enjoy mixing in different fruits to create a new flavor. Pineapple, Apple and Toasted Coconut.

 

I thank God for giving me the opportunity to visit with my family in Mexico a few years back. I was able to re-discover some of my Mom's recipes which are family recipes.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to visit with my family in Mexico a few years back. I was able to re-discover some of my Mom’s recipes which are family recipes.

Directions For Empanada Dough

1. Sift the flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add 1 cup shortening and work in with hands or pastry cutter until you have small crumbles.

2. Heat the water for 3 minutes in the microwave. Add the sugar and anise seeds, stir until sugar has dissolved. To the flour mixture, mix in the egg until well incorporated. Gradually add in the water mixture  a little at a time until dough forms. You may not end up using all of the water. If it seems too dry, add a little more water as you knead dough for 5 minutes.

3. When ready, roll 24 dough balls. Place in bowl or on a plate, cover and let set for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper. Line a tortilla presse with a plastic storgae bag, cut down to size.

5. Before pressing dough ball, knead it for about 30 seconds and shape it back into a flat disc. Press one disc at a time to a 3 1/2 to 4 in circle. The edges will look slightly jagged. Fill with  about 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, pinch edge and fold over. Do not over fill.  Do this all the way over the opening to seal. Bake for 30 minutes, then place under broiler to brown the tops a little. Just about 1 minute. Remove from oven and let cool for 1 minute. While they are still warm, gently dredge through cinnamon/sugar mix. Yields 24 small empanadas.

This version of dough was alittle easier to work with as far as molding and sealing the edges.
This version of dough was alittle easier to work with as far as molding and sealing the edges.

Loca For Coconut Desserts~ Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries

Creamy Coconut Pie made with lite coconut milk and topped with fresh berries, hello 4th of July! Every year for as far back as I could remember, there was always a special dessert prepared on the 4th of July. Of course we were celebrating America’s Independence, but more importantly to me and my family, we were celebrating my Dad’s birthday. In our family we had a running joke that all of America was celebrating our wonderful Dad’s birthday.  Although my Dad was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, he was very proud to be a  an American citizen and had great admiration for both countries. Even though I lost my Dad back in 2007, the tradition continues. We still prepare a special dessert showing our pride in the red, white and blue and our love for him. This recipe was inspired by a can of light coconut milk that I was using to prepare a curry recipe. I mean, how many of us take the time to read the recipes that are printed on the packaging? Not me anyway, lol!  It was a simple recipe using coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and unflavored gelatin. I instantly knew I wanted to use it to make a pie. And the bonus? It’s creamy coconut! Feliz Cumpleaños Papa Querido. Te Seguimos Extrañando y Te Recordamos Siempre. #familia 

Every year for his birthday we loved giving him gifts showing his pride in the red, white and blue.
Every year for his birthday we loved giving him gifts showing his pride in the red, white and blue.
Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries. Fresh berries, a cool and creamy filling and a no bake crust. Great for a hot summer day.
Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries. Fresh berries, a cool and creamy filling and a no bake crust. Great for a hot summer day.



Ingredients 

For Crust
2 cups crushed Maria cookies or graham crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

For Filling
3 /4 cup water, plus 1/2 cup separate
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 can light coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

 

A few simple ingredients, lite coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, unflavored gelatin and freshly grated nutmeg...
A few simple ingredients, lite coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, unflavored gelatin and freshly grated nutmeg…

Topping
1 quart fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup fresh bluberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons sugar

*You will also need a 9 inch springform pan or a large pie plate

 

If you have never had a fresh picked berry from a local farm, you should really taste the difference, wow!
If you have never had a fresh picked berry from a local farm, you should really taste the difference, wow!
Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries
Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries

1. In a bowl, combine the crushed cookies, melted butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well and transfer to pan, pushing down and slightly up the sides to form crust. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. In a small sauce pan, add 1/2 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin. Heat on medium/low just until gelatin is dissolved. Do not boil, set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the coconut milk, condensed milk, 3/4 cup of water, nutmeg and vanilla. Whisk in the gelatin mixture until well incorporated. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

4. Combine the strawberries, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of sugar. You could add the bluberries as well, but I like to add them separate. Cover and set aside while gelatin sets up.

5. After an hour, pour the gelatin mixture into the pan over crust. Using a slotted spoon top with strawberries and then bluberries. Cover and chill for another 2 hours or overnight. Release and remove sprinform pan before serving. Yields 6 servings.

Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries
Creamy Coconut Pie with Fresh Berries

Dulce de Leche Churros with Orange Zest & Cinnamon

I must have been a toddler when I had my  first Mexican Churro. Growing up in Los Angeles, every other Sunday we would visit one of our local swap meets or as they are known in Texas, La Pulga (flea markets). The swap meet was where you could find, old and new items, fresh produce and of course those warm and sugary Mexican style churros. We never prepared them at home since they were available in a variety of locations. It really was more of a special treat we looked forward to every time we visited the swap meet.

I am not 100 % sure about this, but I believe the origins  of the churro come from Spain.  Although all of my life, I just knew them as a wonderful Mexican treat. Churros are typically fried and sprinkled with a sugar/cinnamon mix. They can be served simply with a cup of hot chocolate or cafe for dipping during brunch. One of my favorite ways to enjoy churros is the way you will find them in Mexico, filled with cajeta or dulce de leche. For this recipe, the already prepared dulce de leche in incorporated into the dough.
This recipe was adapted from Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, owners of  Border Grill. I have been a long time fan of their cooking shows since their days on Food Network.

Dulce de Leche Churros

Toasting the Flour for Churros

Churro dough after dulce de leche is mixed in

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups water
13 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
5 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican vanilla
1 cup dulce de leche caramel

You will also need
Oil for frying
A pastry bag
A large star tip for pastry bag
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2  more tablespoons cinnamon

Dulce de Leche Churros

 

Directions

1. In a large pot, add the water, butter, brown sugar, orange zest and salt. Bring up to a boil, add all the flour and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Using a wooden spoon stir quickly to form a dough ball. Cook for a few minutes to toast the flour.

2. Remove from heat. If you have a stand mixer, you could transfer now. I left mine right in the pot and used my electric mixer to mix while adding one egg at a time. Mix well after each egg.

3. Scrape down sides, add vanilla and mix well. Finally, add in the dulce de leche. You could transfer the mixture to the refrigerator until you are ready to use. If frying right away, transfer half of the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.

4. In a heavy pot, preheat canola oil (about 4 cups)to 375 degrees F. Now you can make bite size churros, about 2 inches long, or you can make a them up to 5 inches long. Use a small knife to cut off as you carefully drop them into the oil. Fry for about 4 minutes, drain onto baking sheet lined with paper towels. Dredge in cinnamon/sugar mixture while the churros are still warm. The centers will be soft because of the dulce de leche. This recipe yields 8 to 10 servings.

mmmmmm....mmmmmm!!
mmmmmm….mmmmmm!!

Tips~ My best tip when preparing churros is if possible, do not fry them until an hour before serving. If you have to make them ahead of time, let them cool on baking sheet. Cover loosely or they will have a tendency to become humid or moist and that will ruin the crispy texture. When I prepared these, after dipping them in the sugar mixture, I stored them in my cool oven uncovered until the next day.

 

Dulce de Leche Churros