Growing up we always knew the fall and winter meant lots of sweet and tasty treats we call empanadas. These sweet pastry pockets are filled with whatever jam or preserves are in season and or whatever you were lucky enough to preserve over the summer. This particular recipe calls for my favorite filling, pumpkin. I prefer to use canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling because making it from scratch is too watery. Adding the freshest spices, makes a big difference. So go fresh with your spices whenever possible. —MuyBueno
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves with the butter. Stir in the pumpkin and the spices. Continue to stir over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Make sure the filling is not too watery; otherwise let it cook for a couple more minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool down. After it’s cooled off for about 15 minutes, put the filling in the refrigerator to help it set for 30 minutes or overnight.
You can make the Empanada Dough while the filling is cooling off.
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Mix the first 3 dry ingredients. Cut in the shortening with the dry ingredients. Works better if you use your hands. Add the eggs, milk and sugar. Continue to work in with your hands. Split the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and put into the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. Take out one half of the dough and split it into 12-18 balls of dough. Depending on how small you want your empanadas. I prefer one dozen per half of the dough. They also fit nicely on one large cookie sheet.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. You can fill your empanadas with any preserves made ahead of time.
Roll out the dough into small round circles. Add a small dollop of filling on one half of the rolled out dough. Wet the bottom edge of the dough with water to help seal the two halves. Fold over the dough to seal. Seal off the edges with a fork by pressing down along the two edges. This also makes for a pretty pattern when baked.
Brush each empanada with egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and puncture each empanada with a fork to allow steam to escape while baking. Spray a large cookie sheet with cooking spray, place the empanadas on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes on medium rack in the oven. If after 15 minutes you notice the bottoms of the empanadas starting to brown, move the cookie sheet to the top rack and continue to bake for the last 5 minutes.