These perfect little empanadas filled with homemade pineapple filling is a family recipe that was shared with me by my Tía Minerva. On my last trip to Mexico, in 2011, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a whole month with her. We cooked together and she told me stories of my grandparents and their life together that I had never known. These family recipes hold a very special place in my heart.
Yields 24 small empanadas
For the Dough:
3½ cups flour
1¼ cups shortening
½ cup water
½ teaspoon anise seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar, reserve another 1/2 cup for dusting empanadas once baked
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon for dusting
For the Pineapple Filling:
2 cups finely chopped, fresh pineapple
¾ cup dark brown sugar or piloncillo, if available
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup cold water
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
Since my trip to Mexico in 2011, I feel a lot more confident when I prepare this recipe. The only thing added to the original recipe was a few tablespoons of fresh lemon juice to the pineapple filling for a little extra tang.
1. Combine the anise seeds, cinnamon stick, and ½ cup of water. Steep (cook) in the microwave for 1½ minutes, strain and set aside. Melt the shortening in a microwave-safe bowl, add the anise tea that you strained and stir gently stir. In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until the dough forms and is no longer sticky. You may need to add a little more flour. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest.
2. While the dough is resting, make your pineapple filling. In a large nonstick skillet, add the fresh pineapple and heat to medium heat. Add the brown sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, stir well to combine. Lower the heat and continue cooking for 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. In a small bowl, make a slurry of 1 tablespoon cornstarch with ¼ cup of cold water. Mix together, making sure there are no lumps. Add the slurry to the cooking pineapple, stir well and stir often so it does not burn. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Let filling cool.
3. When filling is cool and dough has rested, form 20 to 24 (1½-inch) dough balls and set aside. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Take one dough ball at a time and press in tortilla press lined with wax paper, fill with 1½ to 2 tablespoons of filling. Fold over, and using a fork, or your fingers, press edges together to seal empanada.
4. Transfer empanadas to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. While still slightly warm, roll in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Yields 24 small empanadas.
*Don’t forget to search Hispanic Kitchen for more empanada recipes and variations, from sweet to savory.
Tip: I like to place the empanadas under the broiler just long enough to brown the tops of the empanadas before removing from oven. Below, a photo of the empanadas de piña that I helped my tía (aunt) prepare when I visited her in Mexico.