Pumpkin is a fall staple and an ingredient that is easy to find at any supermarket. That is why I am suggesting to make Pumpkin Empanadas. A perfect treat to celebrate Day of the Dead or Día de Muertos.

This celebration dates from centuries ago and is a Mexican tradition. In my Mexican culture, the same way we celebrate life we also celebrate death. Because we believe there is still life after death, our beloved ones that have left deserve to be remembered and celebrated.

November 2 is the Day of the Dead commemoration. Many families put together altars in their houses including colorful decorations, yellow flowers called cempazuchitl or marigolds. The altar also includes many traditional dishes, such as mole and tamales, as well as sugar skulls, bread and desserts.

During my childhood, my aunt Julieta would prepare for us pumpkin empanadas made with homemade candied pumpkin puree and a flaky dough. This was one of the special treats for the fall and for Día de Muertos.

Taking my aunt’s original recipe, I have created my own version of pumpkin empanadas for you to enjoy at home and share some Latino cultural facts with your children. This recipe is very simple with just a few ingredients. You can serve the empanadas with a full glass of milk or frothy Mexican Hot Chocolate. These are perfect for a snack or to serve in an upcoming Halloween or Day of the Dead party.

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Serves 12

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small pumpkin, cut into pieces
  • 2 piloncillo cones* (or 2 1/2 cups raw sugar)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 premade pie crusts
  • 1 tsp. orange-colored sugar
  • 1 tsp. purple-colored sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Add pumpkin, piloncillo, cinnamon and water to large pot. Cook over medium heat, covered, 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Remove pumpkin and scoop out flesh. Place in bowl and mash with piloncillo syrup. Set aside.
  4. Whisk egg and milk in small bowl. Set aside.
  5. Place pie crust on wooden surface and cut into 4-inch rounds with small bowl or dough cutter.
  6. Fill dough rounds with 1½ tsp. pumpkin mash. Brush edges with egg wash, fold dough over to form empanada and seal sides by pressing down with a fork. (A dough press can also be used.)
  7. Place empanadas on parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

*Note: Piloncillo cones can usually be found in Hispanic grocery stores, the Hispanic section on many grocery stores, or online.