Where has the time gone? Holidays are almost upon us and our kitchens, dining room tables and living rooms will be hustling with guests before you know it.
Do you have a plan?
My usual plan is all of my house guests will become test guinea pigs so that I can try out many new holiday recipes. Now we all know that might not always be the best solution when trying to host a dinner party or gathering without a hitch. Smoke alarms, Kitchen fires and ordering a back up pizza should not be your first line of defense when hosting your lovely guests.
So this year, I am going to be proactive and test and trial some dishes I have been wanting to make in Bam’s Kitchen for holidays, in advance. I am going to actually use those crazy words called planning and preparation.
When I hosts guests, sometimes it is not for an actual sit down meal but kind of like a relaxed social gathering with easy portable kinds of appetizers and drinks. My guests may come and go and take a seat wherever they please. Teenagers are even more causal about their gatherings as they are always last-minute and they like to congregate where they feel comfortable and that might be in the TV room or with an X-Box in hand.
When you think of holidays and especially Thanksgiving and some seasonal events you think of pumpkin pie. Delicious in its pure form indeed but not so convenient when hosting a gathering when guests do not have a table to sit at and all of that messy whipped topping. I wanted to make something that you can pick up with one hand. I also wanted to make a pumpkin dessert that was more natural and had less refined sugar and not fried. I also needed to make something my teenagers would love, so I began to brainstorm.
I began by making a delicate and flaky empanadas dough. Empanadas are a delightful Argentinean and Spanish influenced dish that has a delectable pastry dough that is folded over in half into a moon shape and has filling that can be either savory or sweet.
Do you remember my recipe for Beef empanadas, http://bamskitchen.com/2011/09/20/beef-empanadas/? I used the main concept of this savory great appetizer and made a dessert with a little bit more health consciousness as it is made with only natural sweeteners and is baked, not fried. I then created a delight spiced pumpkin mix and instead of all of the refined sugars I added natural dates and figs and just a touch of honey with delightful spices to the pumpkin mix. I filled the empanadas with the spiced pumpkin, date and fig mixture and then baked them until they were light and delicate in the oven.
The first bite was like taking a bite into autumn as it has a of the flavors that remind you of this change of season. First the buttery, flaky and delicate crust is the first to hit your palate followed by the cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, mace and nutmeg which is a perfect complement to the slightly sweet and spiced pumpkin. The dates and figs add another dimension of flavor and richness and give this dessert a delicate natural sweetness. Delicious either hot out of the oven or at room temperature. You can pick up a spiced pumpkin and date empanadas with one hand and have a hot cocoa (or something a little stronger for the adults) in the other.
Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas
Serves 10 adults or 1 hungry teenager
- empanadas dough (recipe below)
- Pumpkin pie Spice mixture (recipe below)
- 2 cans of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 12 dates
- 8 dried figs (optional)
- 2 tablespoon of honey (or can use stevia, agave, or any other type of alternative sugar)
- 1 beaten egg
Empanadas Dough Recipe
- 3 cups flour (plus a little more for kneading)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3 tablespoons butter or shortening
Empanadas Spiced Pumpkin and Date Filling Recipe:
- 15 oz of canned pumpkin puree (or homemade baked pumpkin)
- 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice (recipe above)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 dried pitted dates (puree in blender)
- 8 dried figs (soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and puree in blender)- Optional
- 2 tablespoons of honey (or other sugar substitute such as stevia, agave, sweet and low, etc)
- 2 tablespoons of light soy creamer (feel free to use regular or full cream if you like)
Step 1: Mix pumpkin, pumpkin spice, salt, puree dates and figs, honey and creamer together in a bowl until well incorporated.
Makes 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Step 1: Mix ground spices together and store in airtight container.
Spiced Pumpkin and Date Empanadas Putting it All Together:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C)
Step 2: Place 1-2 tablespoon of Spiced pumpkin and date filling on one half of the round shapes you created from the empanadas dough. Do not overfill as you want to be able to fold over and have room to crimp the edges of the dough so the delicious filing does not ooze out during the baking process.
Step 3: Fold the empanadas in half and press to seal edges.
Step 4: Fold over and crimp the edges of the empanadas to secure in the filling. Alternatively you can use a fork to crimp around the edges as well. Place your empanadas in a greased baking sheet.
Step 5: Brush the beaten egg on top of the empanadas. If you are not watching your sugar intake, you can dust the spiced pumpkin and date empanadas with a little granulated sugar (optional).
Step 6: Bake spiced pumpkin and date empanadas for about 15-18 minutes. The crust should be lightly golden.
Step 7: Spiced pumpkin and date empanadas can be enjoyed straight out of the oven or at room temperature. You can also make them in advance and put them in the freezer and just reheat in the oven for about 5-8 minutes just before serving to your guests.