These flaky empanadas filled with spiced candied pears are a Chilean specialty. Europeans brought pears, quince, and apples to South America, and they grow well in central and southern Chile (most things tend to grow well in South America, but apples and pears need a touch of cool weather and a certain distance from the equator to thrive).
Sweet dessert empanadas do well with a different type of pastry - one that is flakier and more like pie crust than traditional empanada dough. This pastry dough has cheddar and manchego cheese blended into it, and the savory cheeses go really nicely with the candied pears.Many Chilean recipes for these empanadas start with dehydrated pears, but fresh pears are delicious when they are simmered with cinnamon and cloves until they are almost like jam. Fruit-filled empanadas always try to burst and leak in the oven, so be sure to seal the edges together carefully.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Yield: About 16-20 small empanadas
- For the empanada dough:
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup grated manchego cheese
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 12 tablespoons butter, chilled
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup ice water
- For the pear filling:
- 6 ripe pears
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 lime
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- Egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon cream
- Powdered sugar for decoration
- Place the flour, salt and cheeses in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into half-inch pieces and add to the food processor. Pulse mixture in short bursts, until mixture resembles a coarse, pebbly, meal.
- Add the egg yolk and a couple of tablespoons of ice water. Pulse several times. Add more ice water, gradually (adding more than 1/3 cup if needed) and mix in short pulses until dough just starts to come together. Do not over mix. Turn mixture (dough will be crumbly and ragged) out onto a counter, and gather together into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
- While the dough chills, make the pear filling: Peel and chop the pears into 1/4-1/2 dice, and place in a heavy saucepan. Add both sugars, one half of a lime, the cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, and pinch of salt. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook over medium low heat, until mixture has thickened, the pears are tender, and most of the liquid has boiled off, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove cloves and cinnamon stick from pear mixture, and stir in vanilla. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon cream to make an egg wash.
- Roll out one disk of dough on a floured surface, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut 4 inch circles of dough and set aside. Re-roll scraps and cut more circles.
- Place about 1 tablespoon of pear filling in the middle of each circle of dough. Brush the edges of the circle lightly with water, then fold circle over filling to form a half-moon shape. Firmly press the edges together to seal. Place the empanada on the counter, and use the tines of a fork to press down on the edges, helping to seal them. Place empanada on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough rounds, cutting more rounds from second half of dough.
- Brush empanadas lightly with egg yolk/cream mixture, and place them in the oven. Bake until they are golden brown and puffed, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar while they are still warm.