If you want a little pouch of warm fall flavors that you can take everywhere – then you need these caramel apple empanadas. These are mini versions of my classic apple pie (basically apples + caramel!!) and wrapped in a crispy but tender empanada crust and topped with cinnamon sugar.
I had never really heard much of empanadas until I met my husband, and my mother-in-law made the most amazing homemade ones for us. She even has mastered the beautiful rope design on the edges. You can see from mine that I am still at the fork stage of design (but fingers crossed I will graduate to those advanced edges!).
I have homemade empanada dough for this recipe, but if you are in a rush you can easily substitute the ready made Goya wrappers. I adapted the empanada dough from the Epicurious recipe, but ended up making quite a few changes for the caramel apple empanada crusts.
I wanted a more rustic taste, so I used whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose flour and added less salt and some sugar. I was very happy with the base of the dough for a dessert empanada. If you are new to pastry dough, I have included some visual step by steps below:
Images clockwise from top left. 1. Sift together the dry ingredients and cut your very cold butter into small cubes. 2. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your hands. This takes a few minutes and doesn’t need to be perfect, but you want to get it as crumbly and rubbed together as possible. 3. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir or mix with your hands until just combined and all sticks together. 4. Knead the dough a couple of times until it forms a solid dough. Don’t over knead, this should just take a one or two turns. Then place dough in the fridge for at least an hour before using.
Image above: Roll out your dough to about 2mm (1/16″) thick. You do not want this too thin or they will crack while baking. I used a Bath & Body Works lid for a template which is 4″ diameter and a really great size for empanadas. If you have a more refined template (like an actual cookie cutter) you can definitely use it. Or you can free hand it, I won’t judge.
Above image: Place about a tablespoon and a half of filling in the center of the dough circle. The colder the filling is the easier it is to work with. The difference in the fillings from the photo above (a thick filling that was chilled overnight) to the photo below (a runny filling that was only chilled an hour) is huge in how easy it is to assemble the empanadas. Overnight chilling made all the difference.
Once you fold the dough over the filling, seal the edges with your finger, then go around with the edge of a fork. It is really easy to fix a non-perfect empanada, you can press it back into place with your fingers or cut off any access. Brush the tops with the reserved caramel from the apple filling and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar before baking.
Caramel Apple Empanadas
- 300 g (2-½ cup) Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 240 g (2 cup) All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Salt
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 1 cup Vegan Butter, Very cold
- ⅔ cup Water Very Cold
- 2 Tbsp Bob Mill's Egg Replacer
- 6 Tbsp Water
- 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 5-6 large Granny Smith Apples peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup Vegan Butter
- 3 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
- 100 g (½ cup) Sugar
- 100 g (½ cup) Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Water
- 2 tsp Apple Pie Spice
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- ½ cup Reserved Liquid from the Filling
- 50 g (¼ cup) Sugar
- 50 g (¼ cup) Brown Sugar
Making the dough
- Sift together flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut up the very cold butter into small cubes (about 1/4" cube) and add to the flour mixture. With your hands, kneed the butter into the flour until small crumbs form.
- In a small bowl, beat together the Bob Mill's egg replacer and 6 Tbsp of water and set aside.
- Create a well in the center of your flour mixture and add the cold water, vinegar and the egg replacer. Mix the dough together with your hands until it is combined and all sticks together (doesn't need to be perfect). Knead a couple of times until it is a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two flattened balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Making the filling
- Peel all your apples and quarter them, removing the core. Cut them into small pieces (approximately 1/4" cubes).
- Place the apples, butter, flour, brown and white sugar and water into a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer 10-15 minutes or until the sauce thickens and creates a liquid caramel. Add the apple pie spice and vanilla and stir well.
- Remove apples from the sauce pan and drain ½ cup of the caramel sauce in a small bowl and set aside. This is what you will brush on the empanadas before baking.
- Put the apple mixture in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours. Overnight is best so the mixture is solid and easy to spoon.
Assembling the empanadas
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Take your dough and roll it out to 2mm or 1/16" thick. Cut out 4" circles, either freehand or using a template, they dont need to be perfect. You should get between 20-24 circles between the two balls of dough. You will have to reroll the dough a few time to get all the circles.
- For each circle, place about a tablespoon and a half of apple filling in the middle. Fold the dough in half so the edges meet like a taco. Press the edges together with your finger so they are sealed and then press the edges with the bottom of a fork. Repeat for all the empanadas and move them with a spatula onto a cookie sheet.
- Take your ½ cup of reserved caramel sauce and combine the sugar and cinnamon topping ingredients until mixed well. With a pastry brush, brush the top of each empanada with the caramel sauce and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top of the empanadas are golden brown. Some filling may bubble out during the baking and that is okay!