Cajeta turnovers (empanadas de cajeta)

From the colonial period when Mexico was part of New Spain, the settlers from Spain were used to what they called "dulce de leche", made following the hispanic tradition. Because of the easy adaptation and proliferation of goats in New Spain and how comparatively difficult it was to breed beef cattle, there were shortages of cow milk in early Mexico. So, many original recipes which included cow's milk were now made with goat milk instead, in this case resulting here in a completely different sweet, where the original cow milk was used, the candy got the name of "caramel" and where the goat milk was used, it received the name cajeta ("cajeta" is a spanish diminutive for "caja" or little box) because of the small wooden boxes into which the cajeta was originally kept. Cajeta is an ingredient that is very mexican, for desserts. Once cajeta was invented, the only missing part was to combine it with the empanada method, with a delicious result, as you are about to find out...

Recipe for mexican sweet empanadas with cajeta:


The dough
2 lb. of white flour
1 lb. melted shortening
1 bottle of 600 ml. coca cola, or root beer
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup of sugar

the cajeta, 2 ways suggested here:
option 1 you can make yourself easily something that will come pretty close:
1 can of condensed milk, label removed and washed thoroughly on the outside of the can; boil the can for 2-3 hours (maintain 1 inch water over the can throughout this process), carefull this can is very hot when ready. Let it cool down before opening.
or, option 2 you can buy cajeta from the store
2 egg yolks stirred with the cajeta so that it caramelises and this will avoid the cajeta from coming off
1 cup of walnuts mashed/chopped to small bits
icing sugar and ground cinnamon to powder the empanadas


1) Make the dough by mixing, in this correct order, the flour, salt, sugar and the melted shortening until your dough is uniform, smooth and without any lumps. Gradually mix in the dough the coca cola or the root beer and knead with your hands until your get a nice dough texture.
2) spread the dough on a wax paper sheet, and to form circles of dough with the 2" opening of a glass.
3) mix the cajeta with the nuts
4) pour the cajeta/nuts mixture in the center of the dough, fold in two, brush the outside with egg, well-beaten. Seal well the empanadas and imprint the top of your fork on the edge of the empanadas.
Pierce the empanadas in the center so that it breathes, line them up on the greased and floured over-going metal plate
5) Bake in the preheated oven (at 375 ˚F) for 25 min, or until they have become golden brown. Once ready pull them out of the oven and, while still warm unstick them off the oven plate, sprinkle them with the icing sugar and ground cinnamon.
Serve to your happy crowd!

note that many other different ways are seen in Mexico to make sweet empanadas; you can create your own, because the empanada base is really very versatile and can be adapted to many ingredients...

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