It's Cinco De Mayo season! The celebration the Mexican Army's victory at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 (often confused with Mexico's Independence Day, which is September 16th). It has also earned it's rankings as a major "party holiday." Just as Saint Patty's Day is celebrated with shamrocks, Guiness and Jameson, many Cinco De Mayo parties will be overflowing with sombreros, Corona, Do Equies, Jose Cuervo and lots of Mexican food.
Although most of my recipes are of the Italian flavor, one dessert that I have made which is very Cinco De Mayo friendly is empanadas. Empinadas are Spanish turnovers (a stuffed bread or pastry), and would make for a great Cinco De Mayo dish. They can be stuffed with meats as a meal or fruits as a dessert. We recently made apple cinnamon empinadas for a Dominican dinner party that our friends hosted, and they went over really well...especially with a few rum & cokes! We used apple pie filling, but we pulsed it a bit in the blender to make it less chunky, but not liquidy. After they were baked, we dusted them with cinnamon sugar.
Now, you know that my Paisan blood would not let a dish like this go without getting a little bit of Italian influence in the mix. So here's how we're gonna do that. Take a spoonful or two of Nutella (the creamy hazelnut spread created by Pietro Ferrero during World War II as a chocolate substitute, due to a rashioning of cocoa) and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat it up for 15 seconds, wait 5 seconds, then heat up for another 15 seconds (30 seconds straight will cause it to burn). Place an empanada on a plate next to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with the melted Nutella for what might be the best dessert you'll ever have.
Apple Cinnamon Empanadas
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1 small can apple pie filling
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
vanilla ice cream
DAY BEFORE: Cream butter and cream cheese together until smoothly blended. Beat in the flour. Shape dough into a smooth ball, wrap in foil or cling wrap, and refrigerate overnight or up to a week.
AT BAKING TIME: Remove dough from refrigerator 30 minutes before using. Heat oven to 375º.
Lightly pulse apple pie filling in a blender or food processor to thin it out, but not liquidy.
Roll chilled dough thin*. Cut with 3 inch round cookie cutter or small juice glass. Place small spoonful of filling in center of each round, moisten edges with water.
Fold round over and press edges together. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet 15 to 20 minutes. Immediately roll in sugar mixed with cinnamon.
Take a spoonful or two of Nutella, and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat it up for 15 seconds, wait 5 seconds, then heat up for another 15 seconds (30 seconds straight will cause it to burn). Place an empanada on a plate next to a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle with the melted Nutella.
* If you're having trouble rolling the dough, add more flour. It'll make the dough less sticky.