If you ever find yourself in San Antonio, you should really go to the Pearl Brewery, located just north of downtown. Built in the late 1800s with brewing operations ceasing in 2001, a great revitalization effort over the past several years has brought in shops, restaurants, and even a new branch of the Culinary Institute of America.
Probably my favorite place there is the CIA Bakery Cafe which offers items such as coffee, tea, artisanal bread, sandwiches, and stunning pastries. I almost always have to get one of their guava manchego empanadas. Now made with puff pastry, they were originally made with more traditional empanada dough, which I actually preferred. The amount of filling has varied a bit, but it’s always a good ratio between the guava and manchego flavors.
I don’t think I had actually had manchego before these empanadas, but it’s now one of my favorite kinds of cheese! Dorky explanation behind the sheet music: I didn’t realize this when buying it, but the brand of cheese was Don Juan, which also happens to be the name of a piece by Richard Strauss (based on the poem by Nicolaus Lenau). It’s one of the standard excerpts that string players have to prepare for orchestra auditions which is why there is so much scrawling all over the music. If you’re curious, let your ears taste the cheese.
Back to the empanadas – I’ve always wanted to try making them and finally did! The ones at the bakery have varied so much that it made it easy to just do my own thing rather than try to pinpoint a very specific recipe. These are really great because they are both sweet and savory and could go from a brunch treat to an appetizer at a party.
And if you’re not sure about the flavor combo, I was told that my friend’s two year-old niece even loved them. Just think of the pairing as apple+cheddar’s more worldly cousin.
Guava Manchego Empanadas
This is kind of a non-recipe recipe because it all depends on how many empanadas you want to make, how big you want to make them, and how much of each filling you would like. I used the lid of a big yogurt container as a cutter which was the perfect size for me! The bakery’s empanadas are a little bigger.
empanada dough of your choice (I used this recipe)
manchego cheese, grated
1 egg, yolk and white separated and each lightly whisked
coarse sugar for sprinkling (such as demerara or turbinado)
Preheat oven according to the dough recipe. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the dough and cut out circles. Spoon a little jelly in the centers of each dough circle and sprinkle with cheese. Brush the edges with egg white, then fold the empanadas in half. Gently press the edges together, then crimp with the tines of a fork to seal. Brush the top of each empanada with egg yolk and sprinkle with sugar. At this point, I chilled them in the fridge for a half hour as the dough recipe I used said this helped prevent the filling from escaping. Bake according to your dough recipe and let cool on a cooling rack.
Tip: If you find yourself with extra guava jelly, spread it over buttered toast for a TASTY snack.