Empanadas de Guayaba y Queso (Guava and Cheese Empanadas / Hand Pies / Turnovers)
My first time eating these was at the airport in Miami on my way back from visiting family in Buenos Aires. I fell in love. I started serving guava paste with hard cheeses as an appetizer, but didn’t try making pastries until a comedy video on the YouTube Mitú channel led me to a blog called My Big Fat Cuban Family that features Pastelitos de Guavaba y Queso using Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets. I was about to drop a box of these in my cart at the grocery store when I read the ingredients and saw hydrogenated cottonseed oil. Back onto the freezer shelf it went. I believe Whole Foods sells puff pastry sheets made with butter only, so someday I may buy them and follow the Cuban Family recipe…or maybe I will learn to make laminated dough myself.
In the meantime, here is my recipe for guava and cheese pastries, empanada style, with pie crust.
You can buy pie crust (check those oils in the ingredient list) or make the recipe below twice to get 20-25 empanadas. This pie crust recipe is from Simply Recipes and you can see more details and images on their site.
To make pie crust, I use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Years into making pie crust this way, I discovered I was supposed to be using a food processor (or two butter knives haha). A stand mixer works great, though (and neither a mixer nor a food processor can handle doubling these ingredients well, so if I want a lot of empanadas, two covered pies, or four open pies/quiches, I make the recipe below twice).
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup of lard (8 Tbsp) If you don’t have lard, use a total of 1 cup or 2 sticks of butter.
- 6-8 Tablespoons ice water
Put all ingredients BUT the ice water in the mixer at medium speed until everything is in small dry bits, then add ice water one tablespoon at a time until the dough is still bitty but not powdery looking.
Form the bits into 2 balls on your kitchen counter. Don’t knead or over handle. Visible pieces of butter or lard are okay. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Repeat a second time to get 4 balls.
Here is a photo of the same crust, different pie event.
When ready to use, flour your counter and roll into 1/8 inch thick sheet.
Use a cereal bowl rim (or whatever you prefer; I like about 6 inches diameter) to cut circles in the dough. Transfer the circles to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Re-roll your scraps and cut circles again.
You can fill and crimp the empanadas between rolling balls of cold dough, so that a sheet or two of empanadas are cooking while you work on the next batch of rolling and cutting.
- 14 ounces of guava paste
- 8 ounces of cream cheese
- 1 egg and 1 Tablespoon of milk or water for wash
- Sugar for dusting
Cut the bar of guava paste lengthwise and then in ¼ thick slices. Do the same for the cheese cheese bar. You want at least twenty pieces of each.
Place a piece of cheese and a piece of guava paste on a dough circle (not directly in the middle).
Fold the circle in half, leaving an “underbite.” Fold the bottom layer of dough over the top in small fingertip sized flaps, to close the half-circle empanada.
Brush each empanada with egg wash. Dust with crystallized sugar. Or dust with powdered sugar after baking.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF
Bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat oil in a frypan to 350ºF
Fry the empanadas in the oil, flip until brown on all sides.
Drain on paper towels.