My Grandma’s Empanadas

My Grandma Josie has made sweet potato empanadas every Christmas for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried making them before, but they’re always a little off – Grandma’s are less like a flaky pastry and more like a soft bread.

I asked my mom for the recipe, and she watched Grandma make them, then relayed the info to me. I managed to create something very close (not quite – Grandma’s are thicker, I think) in my own kitchen, and I’m so excited!

These are basically made like fresh flour tortillas, with cinnamon and sugar added. The crust can be a crunchy at first, but we store them in a covered container, and they go completely soft. I’m so glad to finally know how to make these.

Grandma Josie’s Sweet Potato Empanadas

For the filling:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, baked, cooled and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup warm water

For the filling: Mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher along with cinnamon and sugar until well mixed. Set aside.

For the dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Cut in the shortening with your hands – the mixture will be part fatty crumbs and part flour. Stir in the water and knead until dough is elastic and smooth, but not sticky (add more water if it’s dry, more flour if it’s sticky).

Tear off small palmfuls of dough and shape them into balls. Let them sit, covered, for 10 minutes or so to fluff up a bit.

Roll out the balls as you would tortilla dough, into circles. Add a dollop of filling in the center, then fold over to make a half-circle. Crimp the edges together with your fingers. Prick each empanada a few times with a fork.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until just golden brown on the bottom.

Makes about a dozen empanadas.

Source: My Grandma Josie, via my mom.

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