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“Enchilada Queen” Sylvia Casares Shares Her Secrets In A New Cookbook

Pumpkin Empanadas

Courtesy of 'The Enchilada Queen Cookbook'

This is another recipe for homemade nostalgia. These sweet baked turnovers recall fabulous memories of my mother’s and grandmother’s baking. Like many of their special treats, these treasures were more often prepared during the cooler months, especially in November, around Thanksgiving.

As a young mother and homemaker, I created a recipe to prepare in my home for my children. I have even made them with apples and cinnamon. No matter the filling, they’re delicious, inside and out.

Makes 18 empanadas


2¼ cups all-purpose flour, or more if needed

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable shortening

1 cup very warm (110°F) milk, or more if needed 

Pumpkin Filling

2 (15-ounce) cans solid pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, blending well with a whisk.

Using a pastry blender, mix in the shortening and evenly blend all the ingredients. Add the warm milk and knead for about 1 minute. Do not overwork the dough. If the dough is stiff, add 1 tablespoon more milk. If the dough is sticky, add 1 tablespoon flour or until the dough is smooth and does not stick.

Break off pieces of dough and shape slightly smaller than a golf ball. You should have 18 balls of dough. Cover the dough balls with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 1 hour.

Make the pumpkin filling: In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, blend the pumpkin, brown sugar, and cinnamon until the brown sugar dissolves and the ingredients are well blended. Set aside.

Lightly sprinkle flour on a pastry or cutting board. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball to about 3 inches in diameter.

Place 2 scant tablespoons of the filling in the center of each circle.

Fold over, making sure the edges are even all the way around. Pinch together the edges to seal the empanada. An alternative method is to press the edges with a fork.

Place the empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until the dough is golden in color. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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