Empanaditas means “little patties”, also the name of one of the most traditional sweet treats in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. In particular, a family in the city of Los Mochis started selling and promoting these patties, turning them into an emblematic symbol of the city with their brand Empanadas Rellenitas™ (little stuffed patties.) Traditional countryside recipes call for lard and beer amongst the ingredients for the dough, although modern variations may use vegetable shortening, water and/or egg instead. I wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian, so no lard in this post, but I always try to stay away from vegetable shortening, so I decided to go for a combination of butter and non-hydrogenated margarine. In honour of Irish descendant Edgardo Coghlan, a talented painter born in Los Mochis and featured in my previous post, I included Guinness™, but any brand and type of beer may be used. The most popular fillings are pineapple jam or other fruit jams, or cajeta (Mexican goat’s milk caramel).
Sinaloa Style Mini Patties – Empanaditas
Ingredients (for 24 mini patties)
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup non-hydrogenated margarine
¼ cup sugar, plus more, for coating
1/8 tsp salt
90 ml beer
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup filling, such as pineapple jam, other fruit jam, cajeta, etc. (click on highlighted text for my recipes, or from jar)
Place butter and margarine in a mixing bowl, and allow them to reach room temperature (photo below, left). Beat with a spatula until creamy, then add sugar and salt (photo below, right):
Continue mixing until sugar dissolves completely.
Measure beer, removing excess foam from the top (photo below, left). Add beer to the bowl, and continue mixing (photo below, right):
Gradually incorporate flour, folding in with soft movements (photo below, left). Continue mixing, then transfer to a floured surface, and knead very lightly, just until a ball is formed. Cover with a clean kitchen towel (photo below, right):
Allow to rest for twenty to thirty minutes.
To form discs, the dough might be rolled with a rolling pin until very thin, then use a 3-in (7.5cm) round cookie cutter or rim of a glass to cut 24 circles. Another method is to divide the dough into 24 portions, rolling each into a ball and flattening into 3-in (7.5cm) discs with a tortilla press, a rolling pin, or the flat bottom of a glass:
Preheat oven to 350º F (180ºC).
Once all the discs have been formed, the dough might have relaxed, changing their thickness (photo below, left). Take one disc at a time right before filling, and roll lightly with the pin, to restore thickness and size (photo below, right):
Place no more than one teaspoon of filling on the centre of the disc (photo below, left); this amount might seem derisory, but these are really small patties, and they will not remain impervious to a jam leak if there is too much jam bubbling inside when the temperature rises during baking. Fold in half and seal edge by pressing around with a fork (photo below, right):
Repeat with the rest of the discs, then coat patties with granulated sugar on both sides (photo below, left). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and pierce the top of the patties a few times with a toothpick (photo below, right):
Bake in preheated oven for twenty to twenty five minutes, until the bottoms of the patties look golden brown and lightly caramelized. Remove tray from the oven, and allow patties to fully cool to room temperature before serving:
These classic mini patties are irresistible, with their sugary top, flaky crust, chunky pineapple filling, and crispy bottom:
I filled a few with strawberry jam, and they were also delicious:
A nice platter of empanaditas will remedy any crotchety moods when the mid-afternoon munchies call, the perfect complement to a cup of coffee, tea, or a tall glass of cold milk.
Science Tidbit: It was a little sad to skim the beautiful bubbly head off the beer for this recipe, after all, it is basically what makes Guinness™ draught stout so special and smooth, from a process of nitrogenation; this method was first developed by Michael E. Ash, in 1959. Breweries typically use carbon dioxide to create the characteristic fizz and bitter taste of beer; however, for silkier and smoother beers, such as Guinness™, a blend of nitrogen and carbon dioxide (around a 70-30 ratio) is used, since nitrogen bubbles are smaller than the ones from carbon dioxide, so the resulting head and taste are smoother and more delicate to the palate.
Because of the nature of nitrogen gas, which does not dissolve in water, it was very hard to maintain the right levels of it in packaged beers, which had to be pressurized to somewhat dangerous levels. In 1969, Guinness™ patented a plastic container with a tiny perforation, sitting at the bottom of each can; during packing, nitrogen gas escaping from the beer filled the container through the perforation when the can was sealed and pressurized, and then got released back to the liquid when the pressure dropped, once the can was opened. It took twenty years to produce their first commercial canned nitro beer with this technology, that they called “the widget”. Widgets were shaped as cylinders, some almost as flat as discs, but their success was futile; they worked fine if the beer was cold, but the pressure was too high for warm beer, which would “explode” and spill all over. In 1997, the problem was solved with the next generation of widgets, called “the smoothifier”, working on the same principle, but spherical in shape, and free-floating in the beer. Widgets today remain as floating spheres, as the one seen in the photo below, left, at the bottom of my empty can of Guinness™, and in front of it, in the photo, right, but now have two one-way valves, for a better flow of the nitrogen gas (and a little beer) in and out of the ball:
I am also sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #533, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.