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Warm Mini Apple Pie Empanadas

Nathan Congleton / TODAY
Cook Time:
30 mins
Prep Time:
30 mins
Yields:
16 to 20 empanadas
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Chef notes

The changing of the leaves and dipping of temperatures usher in a new season of cravings. Bright and juicy berries and tomatoes give way to pumpkin, Brussels sprouts and, of course, apples, with the sweet, crisp fruit making its way into cakes, roasts and so much more. 

Whether it’s a fall bake sale or one last picnic before it gets too cold, certain occasions call for a handheld treat,. Turn apple pie into a portable dessert with these easy baked sweet empanadas. Tart varieties such as Honeycrisp and Granny Smith work best, and warm fall spices are the perfect contrast to the buttery, flaky pastry. 

Store-bought refrigerated dough keeps things simple, but feel free to swap in your favorite homemade pie crust dough, if you’d like. The apples are diced and cooked down in brown sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla extract, then brightened with a splash of lemon juice. Place the filling inside small circles of pie dough, then bake until puffy and golden.

These are lovely all on their own, especially when served slightly warm, but can be  served with caramel or butterscotch sauce for dipping. It’s also easy to make them a plated dessert for a dinner party — simply place on a plate and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Technique Tip: Adding a tiny pinch of salt to the egg wash helps break up the proteins so you get a smooth coating. Dusting flour over the work surface keeps the dough from sticking.

Swap options: Add fresh orange or lemon zest to the dough for added flavor or have fun playing around with spices.

Ingredients

For the Filling
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large tart apples, peeled and 1/2-inch-diced
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
For the Empanadas
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1 package (about 14 ounces) refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1 large egg
  • turbinado sugar, for garnish
  • caramel sauce and/or vanilla ice cream, for serving
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Preparation

1.

In a saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the diced apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, salt and lemon juice. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and have released their natural juices, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and the cornstarch and stir well to combine. Set aside while you make the dough.

2.

Preheat the oven to 400  F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3.

Sprinkle flour onto a cutting board or your work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to about 18 inches in diameter. Cut out rounds using a 4- to 5-inch round cookie cutter, re-rolling out scraps as needed. Repeat with second pie crust from package.

4.

Whisk together egg with 1 tablespoon water and a tiny pinch of kosher salt.

5.

Working with 1 dough round at a time, moisten the edges of the dough with the egg wash, then put about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the apple filling in the center. Fold the dough over to close and use a fork to crimp the edges.

6.

Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with rest of the dough and filling.

7.

Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

8.

Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown and heated through. Serve warm with caramel sauce or ice cream for dipping.