Empanadas, hand pies, turnovers … whatever you want to call them, these lovely little treats are the perfect no-guilt nibble to offer your family and friends. The crust is crisp on the edges, yet tender, and delicately pumpkin-flavored with a touch of pie spices, while the filling is bursting with cinnamon infused apples and tart cranberries.They are also just too cute! Sweet and neat little mini pies, no forks necessary. If you’re looking for a last-minute appetizer or dessert idea, look no further!
Pumpkin Spice Empanadas With Apple Cinnamon Cranberry Filling [Vegan, Gluten-Free]
For the Pumpkin Spice Empanadas Dough:
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, solid
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Extra coconut oil, to brush on while baking
For the Apple Cinnamon Cranberry Filling:
- 2 small apples, chopped small (Gala, Cortland, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith are all good options)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus a pinch of lemon zest
- 2-3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- A pinch of salt
- A dash of cloves
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- Parchment paper for rolling the dough and baking
To Make the Dough:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Begin by whisking together the dry ingredients (first three ingredients) for the dough.
- Then, cut in the solid coconut oil with a pastry cutter or fork (or with your fingers) until the oil is incorporated into the flour and resembles tiny pebbles. Then, add in the pumpkin purée and maple syrup and mix with a large spoon or your hands until you have a shaggy-looking dough.
- Bring the dough together and knead a few times, just enough to form it into a ball. You don’t want the dough to be too dry and crumbly, nor too moist and sticky. It should hold together, but not feel tacky. Wrap your dough and place it in the refrigerator while you make the apple filling.
To Make the Filling:
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, place the chopped apples, lemon juice and zest, salt, coconut sugar, and spices and stir together.
- In a small pot, melt the teaspoon of coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the apple mixture and cook for a couple of minutes until the juices start to simmer, then turn the heat to medium-low.
- Add the cranberries and cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the apples have softened and the juices have evaporated a bit. If you’d like to thicken the mixture, you can add 1/8 teaspoon of flour or arrowroot powder. Remove the apples from the heat and set aside.
To Assemble the Empanadas:
- Take your dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Divide the dough into two balls for easier rolling. Take a large piece of parchment paper and sprinkle flour on top of it. Place the ball of dough on the parchment and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Take a second piece of parchment paper and place it over the dough and roll the dough out between the sheet of parchment. This is the easiest way to roll the dough, as gluten-free dough can be sticky and fall apart easily. Try to roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. The thinner the better, but the dough can be tricky.
- Use a large round lid or glass to cut out circles. Fill each round with a small scoop of filling. You’ll learn as you go how much filling you can stuff in those babies without them falling apart. They’ll look a bit rustic, with some cracks and such, but that’s okay. Finally, use a tiny fork to stamp the edges and add three slits to the top of each pie to let the steam escape.
- Place on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Melt a teaspoon or two of coconut oil and after about 20 minutes, take your empanadas out of the oven and brush them with the oil. Put them back in the oven for another five minutes or until golden brown. Take them out and cool for 10 minutes before serving.