Did you ever have one of those recipes that you just can’t get out of your head? This is exactly what happened with this soft dulce de leche empanada recipe. I have been baking empanadas for years and have tested so many recipes along the way. If you have ever prepared empanadas filled with cajeta or dulce de leche, you may have experienced that awful moment when you see all of the cajeta leaking out of your beautifully shaped empanadas? Why? Another batch ruined. Well, they are still a tasty hollowed out version of caramel filled empanadas, lol! I have lost count on how many times I have prepared these. My most successful batch of empanadas that did not leak is when I add egg yolks to the dulce de leche(cajeta). And sure, it keeps them from leaking out, but at a price. The texture of the cajeta changes. It’s no longer that soft, creamy dulce de leche that we are used to. It’s still delicious, but just not quite the same. For today’s version, I combined my family’s empanada dough recipe with my friend Chef Alex Perez’s dough recipe. His dough recipe for empanadas de piña (pineapple) yields a soft dough and much like what you find in the Mexican bakeries. The key to this recipe, is to not over bake the empanadas. Bake For Fifteen minutes, fifteen minutes tops! Even the last batch I baked, I let them go for almost 20 minutes and guess what? Disaster, ha, ha, ha! In my defense, I was distracted and forgot to set my timer. Lesson learned! Check out the link below to see Chef Alex Perez preparing his recipe for empanadas de piña on You Tube! Once you start watching his channel, you may be there for hours!
Empanadas de Piña, Chef Alex Perez. Click to watch video.
Yields 14-16 empanadas
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 large egg yolk, reserve the egg white
3 oz. milk
1/3 teaspoon anise seeds
1 inch piece of Mexican canela
You Also Need
13-14 oz can of la lechera dulce de leche
1/2 cup sugar more reserved in a bowl
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground Mexican canela
Tips~ Better off purchasing 2 cans of dulce de leche to make sure you have enough. Adding the anise and cinnamon to the milk is optional, It just adds a subtle flavor.
In a large bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, work in the shortening until it resembles small crumbles. Mix in the egg yolk. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, add the milk, anise and cinnamon stick. Heat to medium low. Heat milk slowly so that it may be infused with some of the flavors of the anise and cinnamon. Do not let it come to a boil.
Add the hot milk to the bowl and mix. Place the dough onto a flat surface and knead with your hands until dough is mostly smooth. Divide the dough into 14-16 small dough balls. Cover and set aside while you preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. The dough balls will release some of the grease and that’s ok. Just roll it in your hands again and flatten slightly. On a lightly(very light) floured surface, roll out the dough ball to about 4 inches in diameter.
Spoon out about 1 full tablespoon of dulce de leche. Use a second spoon to help you place the caramel onto empanada disk. Brush a light coat of egg white around one half of the inside edge of empanada. Fold over to form empanada. Gently press to remove any air and press around the edges. Pick up empanada and fold and pinch around the edges to seal. Place onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 MINUTES. Set your timer!! Remove from oven and let sit for 2 minutes. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Gently dredge and roll empanadas in the cinnamon and sugar mix. Place back onto baking sheet. Let cool completely before storing. You can store them for a couple of days.
I will confess that everytime I come to the sealing of the empanadas, I really taking my time. Be patient. Or you can use a fork to gently seal.
The empanadas rolled in canela(cinnamon) and sugar are the ones I remember the most from home. And freshly ground Mexican canela, there is nothing like it!
You will have some leaking onto the pan, but it should be minimal. Don’t panic. It just may be a matter of adjusting the time or temperature. All ovens vary when it comes to baking.
After using up all of the dulce de leche, I found myself with some leftover dough. I had fresh pineapple on hand! I minced it fine, mixed in some sugar and cornstarch. It was one of the most tasty pineapple fillings. Who knew? Just know that it will release the liquids from the pineapple, so when you fill the empanada, drain off some of the liquid.
Empanadas de Cajeta Con Nuez. Dulce de Leche With Pecans. This is the recipe with the egg yolks mixed in to the dulce de leche.