These flaky Ham and Cheese Empanadas feature a deliciously creamy and cheesy filling studded with smoky bites of ham. They are common among various Latin American countries including Cuba, Argentina, and Chile.
½cup(60 grams) shredded cheddar, mozzarella, Muenster, or other melting cheese
¼cup(60 ml) mayonnaise
1tablespoonmustard(such as yellow, brown, or Dijon)
1 ½cups(170 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pinchof fine sea salt
8ounces(225 grams) cream cheese, cubed and chilled
½cup(115 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
Egg wash(made with 1 beaten egg and 2 teaspoons water)
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the ham, cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
Make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse for 20 seconds, or until combined. Add the cream cheese and butter and pulse until the mixture comes together and forms a ball, about 2 minutes (about 125 one-second pulses).
Remove the pastry from the food processor, and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill them for at least 30 minutes or up to 48 hours. You can freeze the dough up to 2 months and thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight, before proceeding with shaping the empanadas.
Assemble the empanadas: Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside. If the dough is too cold to roll out, let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before rolling. On a well-floured surface and with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out the pastry to about ⅛ inch thick (like for piecrust). Keep lightly dusting flour on your surface and rolling pin as you roll so that the pastry doesn’t tear or stick (for easier rolling, use a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly over the top of the pastry so that the rolling pin doesn’t stick).
Using a 3 ½-inch cutter, make 28 rounds, rolling and cutting the scraps as needed (if you need to re-roll the dough, brush excess flour off the scraps with a clean pastry brush and gather up the scraps. Wrap them in plastic and chill them for 10 minutes). Keep them covered as you work.
Place a generous 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of half of the pastry rounds. Working with one round at a time, brush the edges with the egg wash and place another dough round over the filling. Use your fingers to seal the empanadas (they will look like ravioli), being careful to press the air out of the dough as your fingers move to the edges. Seal the edges very well with your fingers and then press them together with the tines of a fork. Use the tines of the fork to poke vents on top of each empanada. Transfer the empanadas to the baking sheets and chill them uncovered for 20 minutes (or up to 8 hours).
Bake the empanadas and serve: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash. Bake the empanadas until they are golden, 12 to 15 minutes (rotate the pans in the oven halfway through baking, back to front and top to bottom, to ensure that all of the empanadas bake evenly–mine baked longer, for about 20 to 25 minutes). Let them rest 2 to 3 minutes and serve them warm.
To freeze the unbaked empanadas, do not brush the tops with egg wash. Place them in one layer on the prepared baking sheets and freeze them until solid. Transfer them to freezer-safe bags or bins and keep them frozen for up to 4 months. To reheat, brush the tops of the frozen empanadas with the egg wash. Bake them directly from the freezer. Add 3 to 5 minutes to the baking time, or bake until the empanadas are lightly golden.