Empanadas vary across the world, both in the making of the crust and the filling. Fillings are sweet and savory, while crusts are baked or fried. Pineapple empanadas are generally filled with pineapple jelly or a homemade pineapple filling. The crust closely resembles pie crust though puff pastry may also be used. Pineapple empanadas are brushed with an egg wash, rolled in confectioner’s sugar or covered with a sugar-cinnamon combination.
Prepare the Filling
Drain three 15-oz. cans of pineapple chunks, reserving the liquid. Measure 4 cups of pineapple, pouring it into a heavy-duty saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups of sugar, 1 cup of pineapple juice and ½ tsp. of vanilla to the pineapple. Heat this mixture on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Combine ½ cup of corn starch and ½ cup of pineapple juice; mix them thoroughly. Reduce the heat of the boiling pineapple to medium-low heat. Add the cornstarch-and-juice solution to the gently-bubbling pineapple, stirring constantly for three minutes. This cooks the cornstarch so that your pineapple filling does not have a pasty taste and texture.
Transfer the filling to a plastic container and cover the surface directly with plastic wrap. Set the filling aside until it reaches room temperature. Place it in the fridge overnight.
Prepare the Crust
Mix 5 cups of flour and ½ cup of granulated sugar. Drop 1 cup of white shortening over the dry mixture. Rub the fat and flour between your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs.
Combine whole ice cubes with 3 cups of cold water. Slowly add the water along the edges of your container, gently combining the crumbs. Use just enough water to form a mass of non-sticky dough.
Use your hands to fold the mixture over itself without actually kneading the dough. This ensures that your empanada crust will be soft and tender instead of tough and rubbery.
Roll and Fill
Pinch off enough dough to roll out two empanadas at the same time; cover the remaining dough with plastic wrap. Flour your rolling surface and your rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 4- to 5-inch diameter pot cover to cut two circles from your dough.
Press the cover down onto the dough, turning it slightly to loosen the disc. Remove the excess dough. Place 2 to 3 tbsp. of filling on the center of each circle. Fold the top half of the circle over the filling to align it with the bottom edge. Press the tines of a fork over the edges of the empanadas to seal them. Make three pricks on the top of each empanada for steam to escape as it cooks.
Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Arrange your formed empanadas on the cookie sheet, filling the sheet with empanadas. Place the cookie sheet in your freezer so that the empanadas become hard. Store your empanadas in a zip-sealed, freezer gallon bag if you will not be baking them immediately.
Bake your empanadas when they are frozen. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Use a fork to beat two egg yolks, ½ tsp. of sugar and 2 tbsp. of milk together for an egg wash.
Arrange empanadas about 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the egg wash over each empanada using a pastry brush. Bake the empanadas for 20 minutes. Pierce the steam holes again using the fork. Continue to bake the empanadas until they are nicely browned, about 25 more minutes. Cool them on a wire rack before eating them.
Add 1/2 cup of dried, unsweetened coconut to your pineapple filling.