In the produce section I was lucky enough to find some beautiful sweet potatoes and it reminded me of these empanadas that my Mom makes. Since I have not yet perfected the technique, I thought I’d give a mini version a try using a sugar cookie crust and a few other surprise ingredients for a change.
Although the ratio of cookie to sweet potato is close to 50/50 here, I think in future versions I’ll do a 20/80 ratio to make the crust a little less bulky. I’ve included buttermilk (using canned milk and fresh orange juice), orange zest, honey and only two additional spices to compliment the sweet potato flavor. Enjoy and have a great weekend!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
4 baked sweet potatoes (roasted, peeled and lightly pulsed in a food processor)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp. Honey
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice (plus the zest)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Cloves
For the crust, begin by creaming together the softened butter and sugar until light and smoother. Add the salt, and gradually incorporate the flour until it is thoroughly mixed. Scoop 1 – 2 tablespoons of the mixture into a muffin tin lined with paper liners. Tap down with a small spoon, a shot glass or your finger tips which have been lightly dusted with flour.
Tip #1: If you dough becomes sticky because of warm weather, place the tray in the freezer and tap down once the butter has chilled again. This happened to me on the day I made these.
For the filling, peel the roasted, cooled sweet potatoes and place cut-up pieces in the food processor. Pulse up to 25 times, checking the processor bowl every 5th time. Move larger pieces around and continue to pulse until you reach the desired consistency.
Tip #2: If you do not have a food processor, you can also use a sharp knife and a potato masher to get a really nice consistency. Breaking down the fibers in the potato make then easier to scoop and easier to eat.
Place the processed mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the brown sugar, honey, orange zest and spices. In a measuring cup for liquids, combine the milk and orange juice (this is the buttermilk portion of our show). Set the milk aside and add the eggs into the sweet potatoes and using a hand whisk, mix the egg until it is well combined. Add the milk and juice mixture and stir until completely smooth. Your filling should look similar to a traditional pie filling; fairly thick with lots of body.
Using a scoop, gently lay the filling into the muffin cups, filling just to the edge of the paper liner. These have no leavening, so they won’t rise any more. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the muffin pans. Remove the liners before serving as a ‘hand pie’ or with whipped cream as an individual dessert. Makes about 24 mini pies.