Saturday we celebrated Little L’s first birthday party. I prepared a Dora inspired menu that included pastelitos. These were the most popular item on the menu. To take a look at what else I served at her party check out my previous post.
What are pastelitos you ask? Well, pastelitos are a more buttery, flaky and delicate version of what you may know as empanada. In the Dominican Republic there are empanadas and pastelitos. Empanadas are larger in size with a half moon shape, the dough can be made of all purpose flour or cassava and these can be found sold at restaurants, street vendor stands and cafeterias. Pastelitos in the other hand are smaller, almost bite size (depending on how hungry you are) and are mostly made as appetizers for parties.
The most popular pastelito filling is ground beef cooked with onions and peppers. Pieces of boiled egg or raisins are added to join the beef. Cheese is also a popular filling but it can be made of chicken, seafood, veggies any savory combination will do. In other Latin countries like Cuba pastelitos are sweet filled with fruit, Guava being the most popular flavor.
In Latin America, other terms used for this concept (fried or baked pastries stuffed with sweet or savory fillings) are: pastelitos, pastelillos, empanadas, empanadillas, empanaditas. For some reason we tend to use diminutive terms almost with the intention of making them sound more tempting and delicious. “Ayy que rica esta empanadita”
Combine lots of butter, flour and eggs.
Mix all ingredients using your hands until you form a ball that does not stick to your hand.
Roll with a rolling pin or a pasta machine until dough is about1/8 of an inch thick. I took the hard road and rolled all by hand, old school.
Cut circles of about 3 inches of diameter.
Top one disc with your favorite filling like cheese, ham, veggies, chicken, seafood or ground beef like in this case. Cover with another disc and seal with the help of a fork.
Fry them with very hot oil and enjoy!
Ingredients – Yields 50
3 cups of flour
1 1/2 stick of butter
1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Filling of your choice (I used sauteed ground beef and raisins)
Mix flour and soften butter with a fork. Add 2 eggs and mix with your hands. Add water mixing until you can form a ball. If too wet try adding more flour till you get the right consistency. The dough should be flexible and not stick to your hand. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Roll the dough in a floured surfaced until it is about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Cut circles of about 3 inches of diameter. Roll the excess dough again and keep cutting circles till it’s all gone.
Fill half of the circles making sure you leave at least 1/2 inch around. Wet the edges, place a top circle and seal with a fork.
Use a deep pan with very hot oil to fry them until they are golden brown.
- Pastelitos are better warm or at room temperature.
- You can store unfried pastelitos in the fridge or freezer.