Do you remember that Cranberry Nut Bread that I was telling you about the other day? Well these cookies were completely inspired by that flavor combination. I swear you can’t go wrong when you combine nuts, cranberries, and oranges. Not only do they taste amazing together, but their combined smell in the oven is always heavenly!
These empanadas are definitely a “Flan and Apple Pie” recipe because they combine the best of both Mexican and American cultures. I started off with the empanada, a classic Latin-American cookie, and modernized it by incorporated fall ingredients like cranberries and oranges. I began with Sra. Nena’s basic empanada dough recipe. Then, I substituted toasted ground pecans for some of the flour. I also slipped in touch a orange zest.
Then, I filled them with that festive cranberry-hibiscus jam I made the other day. If you don’t feel like making this jam, you could use any gourmet store bought jam. The food shelf at TJ Maxx usually has some high-quality, delicious-looking jams! You should check it out sometime. I think some other great jam flavors would be raspberry, cherry, or even blackberry.
Finally, after I baked them in the oven, I brushed them with some melted butter and tossed them in orange sugar. I absolutely love how the oils from the orange zest blend with the sugar to give it a spectacular citrus flavor.
In addition to tasting great, these cookies have a dramatic range of textures. From the crunchy orange sugar to the soft sweet jam, they would be a great addition to any holiday table.
empanadas dulces de nuez y naranja con relleno de Arándano y jamaica.
Click here for printable recipe.
Empanadas de Nuez y Naranja (Makes about 24-26 cookies)
¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
Zest of half an orange
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
About 1 cup of jam of your choice (I used cranberry-jamaica)
¼ cup sugar
Zest of half an orange
3-4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
→Put the pecans in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir. Microwave for an additional 10 seconds and stir. The pecans should smell fragrant.
→Put the pecans in a small food processor and grind until they reach a fine texture. If you overgrind them they will turn into butter, so don’t be overzealous. Set aside.
→Place butter and sugar in bowl. Beat together on medium speed (about 2 minutes) until sugar is fully incorporated and butter is fluffy.
→Add the eggs, vanilla, orange zest, and pecans. Mix together (about 2 minutes) to incorporate.
→Add flour and baking powder. Beat just until combined. Do not overbeat or the dough will be tough.
→On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough with a rolling pin. The dough should be about 1/8-1/4” thick. Flour a 2 ½” circle cookie cutter and cut out as many circles as possible. Place on parchment lined sheet. Repeat until you have used up all of the dough.
→Place about 1 tsp+ of jam in the middle of each circle of dough. Fold the top of the circle down and press together with the bottom part to form a half moon. Repeat for all cookies. Use a fork to seal the edges so that the empanada does not explode open during baking.
→Bake at 350°F for 13 minutes until golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
→Thoroughly mix together the orange zest and sugar. Then, using a pastry brush, brush the top of each cookie with melted butter (only do 2 at a time!!!). Roll the buttered empanadas in the orange sugar. Place on cooling rack. Do NOT eat these cookies warm from the oven. You will burn your mouth on the hot jam.
- This time I tried adding a fancier edge to the cookies. I folded the empanada shut as indicated in the directions. Then, I pressed the edges together to flatten them out even further. Finally, starting on one corner, I folded little pieces over to create a zig-zag edge. Check out this video.
- Try not to put too much jam in your cookies. It has the tendency to ooze out, and the cookies just don’t look as pretty.