Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Lemon Curd Toasted Coconut Empanadas

Cuisine: Latin
Servings: 15-18 empanaditas

Do you remember those fruit-filled pies made by Dolly Madison or Hostess? As a child, I remember my mom would shop at the Hostess-Dolly Madison outlet store once every two months. She’d come home with a bag full of treats like Ding-Dongs, Twinkies, crumb cakes and those fruit pies! My absolute favorite were the lemon-filled fruit pies. I have always favored anything with lemon or lime, whether it was sweet or savory and still do to this day. This was my interpretation of that lemon pie that I loved so much as a kid, with the twist of toasted coconut! And I cannot say enough about this empanada dough recipe that was passed down to me from my tías (aunts) in Mexico.


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  1. Melt the shortening in microwave-safe bowl until it becomes liquid, about 45 seconds. Pour the cold beer, salt and baking powder into the melted shortening and stir gently. Gradually add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. You want to start kneading the dough and add enough flour so dough is no longer sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a good hour.
  2. Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler. Add the zest to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the sugar is very finely minced. The oils will come out and flavor the sugar. Add the butter or coconut oil to the food processor. Continue processing until it comes together. Add the eggs one at a time, with the machine running. Add the lemon juice, coconut extract and salt. Mix until the mixture is pale yellow. Add the mixture to a saucepan. Cook over low heat until it thickens. You need to stir the whole time, it takes about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Fold in the toasted coconut before filling the empanadas.
  3. Preheat the oven to 395ºF, line cookie sheets with parchment paper or spray pans directly with Pam. When dough is ready, divide dough into 15 to 18 (1½ to 2-inch balls). On a flat floured surface, roll out the dough balls one at a time to about 4 inches, adding flour as needed. Fill one half with 2½ tablespoons of lemon filling. Leave a little space on the edge of the dough, fold over and pinch the edges together to seal. Transfer to cookie sheets.
  4. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let the empanadas cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Empanadas can be frozen if you are not going eat them within the next two days. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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