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Shrimp Empanaditas

This recipe involves a bit of work but as both the filling and the dough can be made a day ahead the task is not too onerous and the results make it so worth while. Uncooked, the empanaditas freeze well for up to 2 months. If cooking from frozen allow an extra 5-10 minutes cooking time.

Using cream cheese in the pastry makes these little pastry parcels particularly flaky and delicious.

The original recipe came from a Williams Sonoma book of Mexican recipes - although I have adapted it somewhat.

photo: Danielle Chalmers

Makes 30


For the filling

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 500g ripe tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 500g raw prawns, peeled and chopped

  • 4 pickled jalapeno chillies, finely chopped with 1 tbs pickling liquid

  • 8 pimento stuffed green olives, chopped

  • 12 capers, chopped

For the dough

  • 250g unsalted butter at room temperature

  • 185g low-fat cream cheese at room temperature

  • 315g plain flour

  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

  • 1 large egg


Make the filling. Warm the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and seasoning, and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the mixture thickens. Add the prawns, chillies and pickling liquid, olives and capers and cook for a further 5 minutes until all the juice has evaporated. Remove from the heat and cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Make the dough. In a large bowl, using either hand-held beaters or a free-standing mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until well blended. Stir in the flour and 1/2 tsp of salt and mix well. Knead the dough and form it into a disc. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/375F/Gas 5. Lightly grease two baking trays. Dust the work surface with flour and divide the dough in half. Roll out one half to about 3mm thick and use a 7.5 cm cutter to cut out rounds.

Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each round, fold in half and seal securely by pressing with our fingers, then use the tines of a fork to crimp the edges.

Place the empanaditas on the baking tray. In a small bowl, beat the egg with 1/2 tsp water. Brush the tops with the egg mixture. Bake for about 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before serving slightly warm or at room temperature.

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