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Sense & Edibility's Pumpkin Cheesecake Empanadas

Pumpkin Cheesecake Empanadas

Make these handheld desserts in a "jiff" with store-bought empanada dough.
Course Sweets
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 1 dozen


  • pastelillo/empanada dough recipe follows (or 14 oz pkg of pre-made pastelillo dough)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Spice Blend
  • water for sealing the dough
  • peanut or vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Pastelillo Dough (yields 12)

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 1/2 tbsp shortening or lard
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup ice water


  • Begin by preparing the pastelillo dough: in a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder; blend well. Cut in the shortening (or lard) using a pastry blender or your fingers. The dough should resemble a coarse meal. 
  • Finally, combine the egg and water together. Add it to the flour, and mix until the dough comes together. The dough should be slightly stiff, but not floury and scraggly. 
     If you find the dough is crumbly, add a tablespoon of water at a time until the dough holds together. Different climates can alter the amount of water needed. 
  •  Knead for 3 minutes and wrap in plastic. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You can also make the dough a day in advance and store in the fridge.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, cream cheese, egg, sugar and spice blend with an electric mixer. Beat on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to med to beat until fluffy. Set aside.
  • Roll out your pastelillo dough into 6" circles. You can roll them all out at once and separate them with wax paper or parchment paper. 
  • Once all of your dough has been rolled out, fill a large frying pan with the cooking oil. Preheat to 350-375°F.
  • While the oil is heating, and using a portion scoop; scoop the pumpkin cheesecake mixture onto the lower half of your circle. Wet the bottom half's edge with a finger that has been dipped in water. Fold the top half over and press to seal. Roll up a 1/4" of dough towards the filling to make sure it is well sealed. 
    Flute decoratively or use the tines of a fork to create a decorative edge. 
  • Continue filling all of the pastelillos and set them aside on a greased sheet pan until finished. If you find your oil is getting to hot while you're rolling and filling, remove it from the stove, carefully, to allow it to cool down. 
  • Prepare a draining station for your fried pastelillos by lining a casserole dish, or pan, with brown paper bags, or paper towels. Set aside. 
  • Gently slip your pastelillos into the hot oil (don't crowd the pan). Fry until an air bubble begins to form, then carefully turn it over with a pair of tongs. Fry on the second side for 3 minutes before flipping it back over to fry for 3 minutes longer, or until deep golden in color.
  • While you are frying, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Once the pastelillos have finished frying, remove them to the paper bag-lined dish to drain for a few seconds. 
  • After a few seconds, toss it into the cinnamon-sugar to coat evenly. 
    Continue in this manner until all of your pastelillos are fried and coated, then...enjoy!!


*Prep time includes making the dough from scratch.
* Using store-bought dough will yield ten pastelillos instead of a dozen.