Smoked Cheddar & Apple Empanadas

No holiday festivity is complete without apples and cheddar.  A wedge of cheddar with your apple pie is always a great idea, but this empanada recipe takes the symbiotic flavor relationship between apples and, in this case, smoked cheddar to new heights! Maybe I’ll try the recipe with my high school Junior Iron Chef team this year. (During the inn’s off-season, I wear a second hat as a partner with the nutritional services staff in the South Burlington Schools, where I coach one of their Junior Iron Chef teams.)  Vermont Junior Iron Chef, a project of Vemont FEED, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2017, so I had to use my JIC cutting board for this finish photo.  

This recipe makes about six empanadas.

Cheddar Dough

1 cup flour
4 Tablespoons butter - cubed
1.5 oz. Shelburne Farms Smoked Cheddar - shredded
3-4 Tablespoons cold water
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar

Combine butter, flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Using your hands, work in the butter until it is the size of corn kernels. Mix in the cheese. Add 3 tablespoons of the cold water and work it into the dough.  The dough should be messy and have visible pieces of butter and cheese. Add 1 more tablespoon water if the dough looks really dry. Shape into a rough ball, cover, and refrigerate at least one hour before using. 


Apple Filling

2 apples (I like honeycrisp for this) – shredded on cheese grater
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon flour
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

To Assemble Empanadas:

1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water

Roll out the dough to approx. 1/8 inch thick.  Cut circles to about 4 inches in diameter (if you have an empanada maker, use the back for cutting out a correct size piece). Spoon some of the mixture into the circle and fold over in half and seal using the end of a fork (or use the empanada maker to press it out). Finish pressing them out and lay them on a greased cookie sheet. Mix together the egg yolk and the water and brush it over the hand pies. Bake in a 350˚F oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.  Enjoy!

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The apples in the photo don't look shredded as the instructions say - should it say cubed? Or do the apples need to be shredded in order to cook in the 20 minutes of recommended cooking time? I imagine the cubes would still be quite hard in 20 minutes.
Chef Jim says you can prepare the apples either way: diced or shredded. Cooking time would be the same. He made the recipe with diced apples (which is why they're in the photos), but afterwards thought shredded might work better so he adjusted the recipe accordingly.
In the picture the apples looked dices but directions say shred, does it matter?
Thanks for the question, Mary. We asked Jim and he said you can prepare them either way. He made them with diced apples but thought afterwards that shredded apple might work better. But it's really a matter of preference.
How many Empanadas does the recipe make?
About 6. Thanks. We'll update the recipe now.

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