These beautiful freshly baked empanadas de camote are filled with sweet potato, slowly simmered in cinnamon and anise. The dough is hand-kneaded and rolled out, then baked with the fragrant sweet potato filling. I like to eat them right out of the oven with a steaming cup of Mexican hot chocolate.
I used to think empanadas were a Mexican thing but soon discovered that almost every country has their own version. Whether they are sweet or savory, they are incredibly delicious, easy to eat, and the perfect food on the go.
Empanadas by Doña Consuelo
This recipe was given to me by Doña Consuelo, a friend of my cousin Esperanza. Doña Consuelo had heard that my little nephew has severe allergies and can’t enjoy most of the pan dulce available in our town, so she graciously shared her recipe for these empanadas de camote, which just so happen to be vegan.
Doña Consuelo is one of those OG cooks that has never written down a recipe, and measures everything by fistfuls. So my beautiful cousin had her over to her house and had her recreate the recipe, and then proceeded to measure every fistful of flour and pinch of anise. She passed the recipe to me and I couldn’t wait to share it with you.
I decided to pay her a visit to thank her for the recipe and just chat. Sitting in her living room, lamenting that she could no longer use her hands to knead the dough or make them for her family (she has arthritis), she reminisced about the traditional candies that are hand made in Múzquiz, her home town. She talked about the treats she ate as a child, and how she wished they were made with the same quality today.
All of this has me pondering on the importance of passing down family recipes and adapting them for the new generation. Food is such an important part of our culture and we shouldn’t let the traditional recipes disappear with the previous generations. Save your family recipes!! Make them vegan, make them yours!
The Recipe: Empanadas de Camote
- The original recipe called for vegetable shortening, but I have substituted it for coconut oil, but you could also use melted vegan butter.
- I also reduced the amount of sugar (believe it or not!), but you can sub with piloncillo, sugar in the raw or muscovado sugar.
- I used the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Empanadas de Camote (Sweet Potato Empanadas)
camote are filled with sweet potato, slowly simmered in cinnamon and anise.
Sweet Potato Syrup:
- 2 ½ cups Water
- 2 Ceylon cinnamon sticks, 2 inches long
- 1 ½ tsp. Anise seed
- 1 ½ cups Sugar, granulated
- 1.6 lb. Sweet potato, peeled, cut into large dice (About two large ones)
- 17.6 oz. All-Purpose flour
- 2 ½ tsp. Baking powder
- ⅔ cup Melted refined coconut oil (the original recipe used shortening)
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 tbsp. Ground cinnamon
- 1 ⅓ cup Sweet Potato Syrup (see above)
- 2 tbsp. Almond milk
- 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
To make the syrup:
- Combine the water, cinnamon sticks, anise seed, and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and simmer softly for 30 min. Strain. Reserve 1 1/3 cups of the syrup and set aside.
- Pour the rest of the sweet potato syrup in a small pot and add the sweet potato. Bring to a very low simmer, cover, and let cook for 45 min. (It’s going to seem like it’s not enough liquid to cook the sweet potatoes, but we’re basically going to steam them in the syrup. As they cook they will release liquid as well.) Drain and mash with a fork.
- While the sweet potatoes are cooking, in a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the melted coconut oil and mix well.
- Add half of the reserved sweet potato syrup to the bowl while mixing with your hands. The dough will begin to come together. Add the rest of the syrup gradually if needed so youtr dough is moist but not overly sticky or wet.
- Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic and smooth, but not sticky. Let it rest for 45 min.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Divide the dough into 16 equal portions and roll them into balls ( 2 oz. each). On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick.
- Place 1 tbsp. of the filling in the middle of the dough round. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal or seal them decoratively as the Argentinians do. Pierce each empanada three times with a fork near the crimped edge.
- In a small bowl combine the almond milk and maple syrup. Use this to brush the empanadas and bake for 35 – 40 min. or until the empanadas are golden brown on the bottom.