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The World of Mexican Cooking (1971) – Pumpkin Empanadas

March 8, 2013

The World of Mexican Cooking (1971) by Mary Margaret Curry. UTSA Libraries Special Collections

The World of Mexican Cooking (1971) by Mary Margaret Curry. UTSA Libraries Special Collections

Curry, Mary M, and Betty Stiff.  The World of Mexican Cooking. Los Angeles: Nash Pub, 1971. P 28-29. [TX716 .M4 C87 1971].

Empanadas consist of corn or wheat flour dough rolled into circles and folded over any number of possible fillings and either baked or fried. In various parts of Mexico they also go by other names such as los pastes (Hidalgo), los turcos (Nuevo León), and los volovanes (in Southern Mexico). [1]

Sweet empanadas may be filled with a wide variety of ingredients, including mango, guava, pecans coconut, or pumpkin. In The World of Mexican Cooking, Mary Margaret Curry offers a recipe for pumpkin-filled empanadas, with just a hint of licorice-flavor from anise oil.

Empanada Dough

Empanada Dough

Pumpkin Empanadas

  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspon salt
  • 2/3 cups shortening
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, dissolved in milk used for dough
  • About 1/2 teaspoon anise oil (optional)
  • 2/3 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together and cut in shortening. Add milk, sugar and anise oil and stir just until dough follows fork around bowl. Knead two to three times on floured board and roll out about one-fourth inch thick. Cut in four-inch circles. Now make your filling. 

Pumpkin Filling

Pumpkin Filling


  • 1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin or mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • About 1/2 teaspoon anise oil (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon powdered allspice
  • Put all ingredients together and mix well. 

Place one heaping teaspoon pumpkin or sweet potato mixture on one half of the circle of dough, fold over, and crimp edges with fork. Brush pie with canned milk or egg white and bake on greased cookie sheet at 450 degrees for twelve to fifteen minutes or until pie is golden brown. When baked, sprinkle with mixture of sugar and cinnamon and serve warm. 

In the Kitchen:

Anise Extract

Anise Extract

This was a fairly straight-forward recipe, but I did make a couple of alterations. First, since I don’t have a 4-inch round cookie cutter, I separated the dough into 12 balls and then rolled each one out separately. When it came time to fill the empanadas, I found that 1 teaspoon of filling just didn’t look like enough, nor would it come close to using all of the 16 oz. can of pumpkin. I decided that in this instance Curry may have meant a silverware teaspoon, rather than a measuring teaspoon. Since the filling is quite thick, a heaping scoop from a dinnerware spoon is closer to 1-2 tablespoons  This amount filled the empanadas better and used all of the filling.

The use of baking powder gives these pastries a fluffiness not usually seen in pie crust, and the anise oil adds a delicious layer of complexity to the more mundane pumpkin-and-allspice filling. Curry notes that she often makes a large batch of empanadas and then freezes them to bake later. This is something I’ll definitely need to try! Fresh-from-the-oven empanadas would make a delightful addition to any weekend brunch.

[1] Ricardo Muñoz, Diccionario Enciclopédico de Gastronomía Mexicana (México : Editorial Clío : Fundación Herdez, 2000), 234-235.

Pumpkin Empanadas with Cinnamon Sugar

Pumpkin Empanadas with Cinnamon Sugar

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