Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

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Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas,, I hit the jackpot with modified pie dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Makes 8 large empanadas

Ingredients: 

Dough:

1 cube cold salted butter

1 Tb frozen shortening (Crisco)

Dry ingredients:

3 Tb  granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

1 2/3 cups  all-purpose flour, divided into 1 cup and 2/3 cup

1/2 tsp  Kosher salt

1/2 tsp  baking powder

1/2  tsp cinnamon

Liquid ingredients:

1 Tb half and half

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

1 Tb  brown sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A few more shakes nutmeg

2 Tb half and half

Egg Wash:

Reserved egg and cream mixture

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Sift 1 cup of the flour together with the other dry ingredients into a food processor, and pulse a few times to mix.

Slice butter and shortening into small pieces. Stir gently into the flour with a fork, so they separate and are coated with flour.

Pulse until butter and flour become a paste.

Break up the dough with a knife and then add the rest of the flour and pulse just a few times so that the flour-coated butter pieces range from from pea-sized to crumbles. Empty processor into a medium-large mixing bowl.

Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla in a smaller bowl. Set aside 2 Tb to brush on the empanadas.

Add the vinegar to the butter and flour mixture along with 1 Tb of the liquid mixture. Toss with a fork and add more liquid, a little at a time until it’s just moist enough to squeeze with your hands to form a large piece of dough. The dough should not be too dry with cracks nor should it be sticky.

Form dough into a round shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or more. This allows the dough to resist shrinkage. If you leave it overnight, let it sit for at least half an hour to soften before rolling.

Form into balls that fit in your hand and place each ball between plastic wrap. Roll each ball in a circle. Dough should be about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches diameter. Put a 6″ diameter bowl over the dough like a cookie cutter and peel away the excess dough so the circle will have smooth edges. You can also roll out 1/3 of the dough at a time and cut out 2 circles from each piece. Refrigerate the dough circles for 1/2 hour or more.

IMG_0609Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream into the yam.

IMG_0610Whip the yam mixture until smooth.

Preheat oven to 400′

Scoop a ball of yam mixture (about 2 – 3 TB) into the dough circles. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edges.

Hold the empanada in your hand. Starting in the center and working your way to the edges, fold dough over to make a half moon. If there’s room for more filling, add it a little at a time before you seal the last edge.

Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger, starting at the middle and working your way to the edges.

To make pretty repulgues, fold over the triangular edge of the empanada, then fold the next triangle, continuing all around the edges. Fold the last triangle under. This takes patience and lots of practice!

Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Drunken Pecan Sweet Potato Pie

pieA pecan walks into a bar, orders a shot of Jim Beam and jumps into the glass. The bartender looks at it, shakes his head and says “You’re nuts.”

This has got to be the best sweet potato pie I have ever tasted. It combines a pecan pie topping made from bourbon soaked pecans atop a creamy, spicy, sweet potato filling. I infuse the cooked yams with cinnamon sticks just after baking to give it an earthy cinnamon flavor. It’s lower in fat than most sweet potato pies and not overly sweet.

This recipe works best when the cook is singing along with Ray Charles and James Taylor’s  “Sweet Potato Pie” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzZle2RDzTc

Ingredients:

drunken-pecans

FILLING

3 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, such as Garnet (also called yams)
6 thin cinnamon sticks
3 large eggs
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne

PECAN SOAK
3/4 cup raw pecans halves
3 Tb Jim Beam bourbon

PECAN TOPPING
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt (if using salted butter, put in just a pinch)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon                                                                                                                                      1 Tb heavy cream

Pour bourbon over pecans and let soak for 3 hours.

Make a single pie crust in a standard 9-inch pie pan or a tart pan and freeze it. Blind bake it just before filling.

Roast pierced sweet potatoes on a  foil-lined cookie sheet at 375° for about 1 ½ hours until very tender when pierced. Half-way through cooking time (45 minutes), turn the yams over.

cinnamon stick in yamI

Immediately after you pull them from the oven, pierce each end of the potatoes and insert a cinnamon stick lengthwise all the way through each end. Cover yams with foil and let cool. You can do this part a day before. Peel potatoes and remove cinnamon sticks. Purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. Measure 2 cups.

Set oven to 350°. Beat eggs in a mixer until frothy. Pour pecan-infused bourbon from pecan soak into the eggs. Beat in remaining filling ingredients until well blended. The filling will be thick. Pour into a hot pre-baked 9″ pie crust and spread level. Use a pie crust protector or wrap pie rim with 4 strips of foil  to prevent it from burning, and bake pie for 30 minutes.
caramelized-topping

Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and heat to boiling. Let boil for just a minute, then turn off heat. Add cream and stir until smooth. Stir in pecans, coating them well with the caramel syrup..

pecans-coated-with-toppingStir in pecans,
Take the pie out of the oven and remove foil from pie crust. Make 2 concentric circles of pecans around the pie. Spoon extra caramel topping over the pecans.

ready for the oven

Continue to bake until center jiggles only slightly when shaken gently, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on a rack at least 2 hours.
Enjoy topped with maple-syrup sweetened whipped cream.