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Empanadas made with gingerbread dough

Gingerbread pear empanadas

Gingerbread empanada dough filled with caramelized ginger pears that were cooked in a syrup of panela or piloncillo and spices.
Course Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine American, Ecuadorian inspired, Latin fusion
Keyword Caramelized pears, Empanada dough, Gingerbread, Gingerbread empanadas, Pear empanadas, Sweet empanadas
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Chill time 1 hour
Servings 25 small gingerbread empanadas


Gingerbread empanada dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • ¼ - ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tbs ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 stick of butter cut into small pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs molasses
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 2-4 tbs cold water

Pears in ginger panela syrup:

  • 4 pears cored and cut in quarters
  • 16 oz. or 1lb of panela or piloncillo
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tbs freshly grated ginger

Empanada assembly:

  • 1 egg white & yolk separated, whisk the yolk with 1 tbs of water to make an egg wash to brush on top of the empanadas before baking
  • ¼ cup demerara sugar to sprinkle on top of empanadas


Gingerbread empanada dough:

  • Place all the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, dry spices and salt in a food processor and mix well.
  • Add the butter pieces and pulse until mixed.
  • Add the eggs, molasses, freshly grated ginger and 2 tbs water, mix until a clumpy dough forms. Add the additional water one tablespoon at a time if needed.
  • Remove the gingerbread dough from the food processor and knead it a couple of times.
  • Form dough into 2 balls, flatten into thick discs, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin sheet
  • Cut out round disc shapes for empanadas, use a round dough cutter as a mold or a small plate or cup that you then use a knife to gently cut around. Choose how large based on whether you want small or medium sized empanadas. For sweet empanadas, I usually make them smaller so that you have the perfect size for dessert. It also makes the empanada assembly easier if they are small.
  • Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use. You can also layer them with wax paper and freeze to use later.

Pears in ginger panela syrup:

  • In a large sauce pan, combine the water, panela or piloncillo (whole or grated), cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Cook over low heat until the panela or piloncillo has dissolved and you have a syrup.
  • Add the quartered pears and bring to boil, cook over medium –medium high heat for 25 minutes. The secret to keep the pears from turning to mush is to NOT stir them
  • Remove from the heat and let the pears cool down
  • Cut the pears into smaller pieces to make it easier to fill the empanadas

Gingerbread pear empanada assembly:

  • Place a spoonful of the ginger caramelized pears on the center of the empanada disc.
  • Brush the edges of the empanada disc with the egg whites; this will act as a form of glue that will help seal the empanadas.
  • Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers. Sweet empanada dough is more fragile than savory empanada dough so you can try to twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, but it’s much easier to use a fork to seal the edges.
  • Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk wash; this will give them a nice golden glow when baked.
  • Sprinkle each empanada with a little bit of the demerara sugar.
  • Chill the empanadas for at least 30 minutes or until ready to bake, this will help them seal better.
  • Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven at 375 F for 15-20 minutes. The exact time will vary based on your oven and size of the empanadas
  • Serve the pear empanadas warm. They are still good served cold, but taste much better when eaten warm.


Serving: 25g