I’ve been thinking about tarts a lot lately. Fruit tarts, savory tarts, chocolate tarts, ugly tarts, pretty tarts, any and all tarts. I came home with every intention of making tarts (three ways, mind you), but at the end of the night I had 25 mini empanadas staring me in the face and not a tart in sight.
I don’t know how that happened. I must’ve been baking on auto-pilot again.
Fear not, fellow tart-lovers, they’ll make their debut. For now, let’s enjoy what tastes like a bite of warm apple cinnamon cheesecake wrapped in a whole wheat blanket. As it turns out, empanadas don’t have to be fried or filled with greasy meat to taste utterly sinful. Waistlines, rejoice!
Mini Apple Cinnamon Empanadas
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 T stevia (or other dry sweetener)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter or alternative (I use Smart Balance Lite. You can also sub half oil of your choice. And please, PLEASE don’t ever use margarine!)
1/4 cup cold water
Apple Filling Ingredients:
3 – 4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 – 2 T butter alternative
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 – 2 tsp agave (optional)
Cream Cheese Mixture Ingredients:
4 oz tofu cream cheese (or neufchatel cheese, non-vegan alternative)
1 – 2 tsp agave (depending on desired sweetness)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Step 1: Prepare your dough. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sweetener, then cut in the butter (or alternative) with a fork or pastry cutter. Sprinkle the water and cut in until the dough is crumbly. Knead the dough lightly for a minute, form into a ball, wrap, and put in the fridge to rest for about a half hour.
Step 2: While the dough chills, peel, core, and chop the apples. Chop small pieces for smooth filling or larger pieces for a chunkier filling.
Step 3: Heat a pan to medium low and add the apple filling ingredients (apples, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and agave). Cook down, stirring frequently, until the apples are completely soft, gooey, and about half their original size. While they’re cooking, preheat the oven to 350F. In a bowl, combine all cream cheese mixture ingredients (cream cheese, agave, and vanilla), beat until smooth, and set aside.
(Note: Brandy would be an excellent addition to the apples. I was momentarily tempted to tell my husband that I was taking up drinking so that I’ll always have alcohol on hand just in case a recipe calls for it, but I must have caught another waft of buttery vanilla and lost my train of thought. All this to say that if you happen to have Brandy in the cabinet, please add a splash or two.)
Step 4: Remove the dough from the fridge and roll onto a floured surface until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out as many 4-inch rounds as you can (I used a large jar lid to do this; be creative if you don’t have the right tools!) and line them on a floured cookie sheet. Gather the leftover scraps of dough, knead together, and repeat the rolling and cutting process until all the dough has been used.
Step 6: Brush the tops of the empanadas with a very light layer of non-dairy milk (optional) and add a few more sprinkles of cinnamon (if you’re a cinnamon freak like me). Bake for 20 – 30 minutes until slightly crispy around the edges. Let cool for five minutes and serve warm with a drizzle of coconut cream or a little scoop of non-dairy ice cream if you want to really indulge!
Warm, seasonal, and so darn cute! These little guys just took my cinnamon obsession to a whole new level. I’m beginning to think that in addition to calcium, manganese, and vitamins A and K, cinnamon may also contain a significant amount of crack. Autumn is the season of giving and generosity, so give yourself permission to be generous with cinnamon at all times. It’s critical to your health. 🙂
Here’s hoping autumn never ends!
~ Becky, a skinnyfat girl