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
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.