These small vegetarian sweet potato black bean empanadas feature a super flaky and delicate crust with a cozy savory-sweet filling. The warm spiced filling is perfect for fall, but would be delicious any time of year. Make these for parties and potlucks or simply for snacking.
1(8 ounce / 225 gram) yam (sweet potato), peeled and chopped into ¼-inch pieces(about 1 ½ cups or 200 grams chopped)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼cupfinely chopped onion(½ small onion or 40 grams)
¾cup(125 grams) drained and rinsed canned black beans
Flour,for rolling the dough
Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse twice until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it becomes mealy with pea-sized bits of butter, about 10 times. Next, add the egg and pulse 10 more times until the egg absorbs into the flour, but do not let it form into a ball in the machine.
Remove the dough to a work surface and bring the dough together by hand. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.
Meanwhile, begin making the filling. Lightly coat the bottom of a sauté pan with 2 teaspoons olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the sweet potato, salt, pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground cumin. Cook for a few minutes, then add ¼ cup water to deglaze any browned bits in the pan and help the potato finish cooking. Cook for about 10 minutes total until lightly browned and tender and all the water has evaporated. Transfer to a bowl.
In the same pan, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic and briefly sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the black beans, the remaining ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, and salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for about 1 to 2 more minutes until heated through, and then add the remaining ¼ cup water to deglaze the pan. Cook for another 3 minutes, and use the back of a wooden spoon to smash some of the black beans to thicken the mixture. When the mixture is somewhat saucy, but thick, remove it from the heat and combine it with the sweet potato. Allow the mixture to cool before assembling empanadas. You will have about 1 ½ cups filling.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 5 to 10 minutes before using to allow it to slightly soften enough to roll out easily. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about ⅛-inch thick. Use a 3 ¾-inch round cookie cutter to cut out circles of dough. Gather the dough scraps, reroll the scraps, and cut out more circles, until you have a total of 24 circles. If the dough circles are warm and soft at this point, return them to the refrigerator to chill for 10 minutes.
Put 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each dough circle. Lightly brush the edges with the beaten egg and fold the circles in half to form semi-circles. Reserve the remaining egg wash for brushing on top of the empanadas later. Using your hands, pinch around the edges of the dough semi-circles to seal. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Transfer to 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the reserved egg wash over the tops of the chilled empanadas, and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
These empanadas are flakiest on the first day of baking, however you can wrap them in foil and store them at room temperature for a few days. I recommend refreshing them in a 375°F toaster oven or oven for about 5 minutes (or until toasty). This will re-crisp the dough and make them taste almost freshly baked.
The empanada filling is so good it could easily act as a side dish on its own. Feel free to double the sweet potato black bean filling and serve some of it crustless if you'd like.
Papas y frijoles is a popular combination of potatoes and beans in Latin American cuisine. You can swap out the sweet potatoes for regular potatoes to mimic this traditional combo in your empanada filling if you'd like.