Banana Dulce de Leche Empanadas

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Empanadas. You sweet (or savory) little pockets of deliciousness. I can’t get enough of you. You are convenient in that you’re handheld and easy to eat, and when made correctly are a party of flavor. It’s no wonder then that the Empanada is supposed to be the next ‘Cupcake’ or ‘Macaroon’ of the dessert world.

Like many of the other recipes on here, this is just one flavor profile out of seemingly endless combinations. Banana and dulce de leche didn’t seem to be all over the internet like other flavors yet, so I thought I’d give it a go and create my own, but friends, the possibilities are ENDLESS. Nutella and banana? Vanilla cream and pears? Strawberry rhubarb? Think of all the fun you can have with them!

And don’t even get me started on savory! I roasted some Anaheim Chilies and a Jalapeno, threw them together with some Monterey Jack cheese and made the most delicious little pockets of cheesy goodness I’ve had. Yeah, that good. That will be its own post though on another day..

I hope you enjoy these! Tell me what you think, what your favorite combination might be and how they turned out for you.

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Dough Recipe:

(Prep time: 15 minutes mixing and rolling, an hour to chill)

4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup shortening or butter (cold, cut into small cubes)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup cold water (may not need all the water)

4-5 cups frying oil

Filling Recipe:

(Prep time: an hour to cook the dulce de leche, and some time to chill before filling)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2-3 bananas, sliced

Step One, Cut the fat!

Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the shortening or butter, cutting it in with a pastry cutter or crumbling with your fingers into the flour. The result should be small pebbles of dough and fat. Add the water, slowly, and continue mixing by hand. This part is key to a successful empanada dough – you need to mix it as little as possible, to keep small pieces of fat together. This is what makes the final dough tender and flaky. Of course, you want to mix it to where it will all come together.

Once it’s mixed, form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for one hour before rolling out. This will give you time to prep the filling.

Step Two, Dulce de what?

Sure, you can buy dulce de leche in a can, ready to go. That’s cool if you are trying to save time. If you have more time and want to take it a step further, grab a can of sweetened condensed milk. Grab a small sauce pan, put about an inch or two of water in it and cover with a glass bowl that fits over it. That’s creating what’s called a ‘double boiler’. The key to this is to not let the water touch the bowl, and to monitor the water levels closely to make sure you don’t run out and scorch the pan.

Add the condensed milk to the bowl once the water is simmering. Let cook, on simmer, for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown. This took so long for me. I had to re-fill the pot and nearly burned my finger off while doing it, so be careful! You can clearly do this ahead of time and store it in the fridge for later use, which is what I did.

Step Three, Rollin’, Rollin’ Rollin’

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Now it’s time to stuff your empanadas. Grab that dough that has been chilling, cut it roughly in half, and cover the second half to chill while you work with the first half. Roll out onto a clean surface. Cut even circles out of the rolled out dough. I used a biscuit cutter, and experimented with a mini-tart pan that made bigger empanadas. Find the size that works for you!

Step Four, Fill ’em up!

Slice two bananas, and grab the dulce de leche. Put a small spoonful of the sauce, with a couple banana slices on each round of dough.

P5040003Fold in half, taking care to make sure no filling spills out and the sides are pressed into each other nicely. You can now roll up the edges by hand, or use the tines of a form to press down all around them.

Step Five, Fry time:

It’s totally optional to fry these. You can be a bit healthier and bake them – I would suggest baking at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, and then check on them every few minutes after that, until they are golden brown.

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Fill a large, deep sauce pan or larger with oil (I used Canola, but Vegetable or Corn would work just fine). Heat to 350 degrees, and gently set in a few empanadas. They should turn golden brown within a minute and a half. Remove from the oil, set on a rack and immediately sprinkle with sugar.

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Step Six, Consume all the Empanadas!

Enjoy!

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