The Pumpkin Moon Empanadas is now available on
(Artwork courtesy of Sarah D. Thomas)
 "Papi, does the moon taste like cheese?"
The little girl walked hand in hand with her father. The harvest moon hung in the fall night sky.
"Who told you that?"
"Tía Lupita told me."
"It don't taste like cheese. It tastes like pumpkin.""How do you know, Papi?"
"Because when I was little like you, your abuelito—grandpa—took me there and we tasted it." 
"For reals?"
"For reals, mijita." He tightened his grip as they walked along.
He smiled as he looked down at his little daughter and said, "One day I'm going to bring you the moon, and you and your mamá will make pumpkin moon empanadas—the best you've ever had."
A few days later, he kept his promise, for he brought home a pumpkin that looked like Cenicienta's (Cinderella's) coach. Its orange luminosity glowed against the bright green of its stem. A kind of sparkly dust clung to it.
He called after her laughing. "Mira, mi'ja. Didn't I tell you that your papito would bring you the moon?"
¿Y de dónde agarraste esto?—And where did you get this? It's too beautiful. We can't eat it," her mother objected.
"Of course we will eat it. I went through a lot of trouble to get this pumpkin, and you are going to make us some empanadas.
Apúrate—hurry up, because tonight I'm going to eat some with you and la muñeca—the little doll."
So her mother cut up the pumpkin and roasted it in a hot oven until it was soft. Then she mashed it and let it hang in a bag of cloth until all the moisture was drained off. Her mother added cinnamon and spices with butter and piloncillo to the mashed pumpkin. The little girl watched as her mother rolled out the pastry dough, spooning up the dollops of pumpkin filling, and helped her fold the empanadas into crescent moon shapes.
Scene from The Pumpkin Moon Empanadas
(Artwork courtesy of Sarah D. Thomas)
The little family ate in silence. The empanadas tasted nothing like the empanadas they had ever had. They were bright and soft and flaky. The filling was delicate and flavorful, its sweet spicy aroma filling the small kitchen and wafting out of doors to other kitchens for miles around. People began to appear at their door begging for a taste, and before they knew it the empanadas were gone.
The following night it was dark, so dark that there was no moon to be seen. A harsh cold wind howled in from el norte. Gloom settled over the town, causing the townsfolk to wonder if Winter had come too early. "What will become of la cosecha—the harvest—and of us?" they asked.
Not long after, the little girl went outside to sit beneath her favorite tree and look! At its trunk sat a rare blue pumpkin, mottled grey and gigantic. It was strange and its odor was like nothing she had ever smelled. It sat there untouched, solitary and mysterious.
The rare blue pumpkin disappeared and in its place there appeared in the sky a huge orange moon that so reminded her of the pumpkin her father had brought home. Bright green stars began to shoot all over the expanse, lighting up the night sky until it felt like day.
"So it's true!"
The little muñeca is now an old woman, but she will never forget the day her papito brought down the moon just for her. Or how it tasted.
Pumpkin Empanadas
Empanadas de calabaza

Yes, this is a labor intensive recipe, but certainly worth the effort. You will find that empanadas or pumpkin pie made from scratch is more delicate tasting then ones made from a can.

Pumpkin Filling:
1 29 oz. can pumpkin puree (not filling); or, Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Puree (recipe to follow)
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon or less of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 to 8 tablespoons ice-cold beer (or, ice-cold lemon-lime soda if making empanadas for kids)
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon water

Fresh Roasted Pumpkin Puree Recipe:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut one 8 to 10 lbs baking pumpkin into large pieces.  Remove seeds.  Place pieces skin-side down on a greased baking sheet, cover with aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes to 1 hour , or until skin is easlily pierced with a fork.  If pumpkin is sogg, uncover and roast for about 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and let cool away from little fingers.  Spoon out the pumpkin flesg abd whirl in a blender until smooth.  Puree should be moist but not at all soggy.  Save 3 1/2 cups.  Use instead of canned pumpkin puree for this or any other recipe.
To make the filling:  In a medium saucepan, mix together the canned or fresh roasted pumpkin puree, butter, salt, grated orange peel, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, and nutmeg.  Adjust the spices and sugar to taste.  Cook uncovered over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  remove from heat and let cool.
To make the pastry:  On a hard flat surface, use a pastry cutter or a chopping knife to mix the flour, shortening, butter, salt and sugar.  The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.  Gradually add the 4 - 8 tablespoons of ice-cold lemon-lime soda until the dough comes together, but do not over-knead.  Let the dought rest in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl.  Beat the egg yoke with 1 teaspoon water in another bowl.  Set both aside.  Roll out the pastry dough to 1/8 inch thick.  Place the open part of a small bowl or large drinking glass (about 4 inches in diameter) and press it into the pastry dough to create circles.  Remove the excess pastry dough.  In the middle of each circle put a tablespoon of pumpkin filling.  Brush some beaten egg white along the edge of each pastry circle.  Use the tines of a fork to seal the edges.  Keep working until all the pastry dough is used up.
Carefully lift the empanadas and place them on 2 parchment-covered cookie sheets.  Brush each empanada with the egg yoke mixture.  Poke a small hole in each empanada to let steam escape.
Bake the empanadas for 20 to 25 minutes or until they are golden brown.  Once out of the oven, sprinkle the empanadas with a mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Makes about 3 dozen small empanadas.
Tip:  To make large empanadas, use a dinner or a salad plate instead of a bowl to cut the pastry.  Use a generous amount of filling but don't overdo it--you don't want the filling to gush out.  Make 3 small slits to let steam escape.


jennydraws said...

Clem, Im going to try this recipe.
Pumpkins and "Fall" go hand in hand. yummy.

Tamale Chica said...

OMG these look so good! I love pumpkin! Do you deliver? ;-)

Leslie Limon said...

Are you a mind reader? I was just thinking about pumpkin empanadas today. They are my favorite. I make them a couple times a year when there are plenty of pumpkins. Can you believe that in the small town where I live, you can't find these?

Great post, as always! Saludos desde Mexico!

Clementina said...

Hola, amigas!
Oh yes, pumpkins and fall go hand in hand, and my farmer's market was chock full of them--even the blue ones that I featured in my post. Too bad that in a few weeks they will be rotting away on people's doorsteps when they could have put to good use.

Leslie, you can't find them in your small town. Increible!

Tamale Chica--no deliveries, just instrucciones for smart chicas who want to cook Mexican food just like their abuelitas. Give these a try!


Anonymous said...

Yum! Those pastries sound so good with pumpkin filling! I would love to try them!

Juju from Tales of Whimsy said...

This looks AMAZING!

Juliana said...

These little empanadas with pumpkin filling look delicious...what a treat for the Season

Canadiangrl said...

Sounds like a show shopper...perfect timing as this weekend Canadians are celebrating Thanksgiving! Thank you

Tera said...

YUMMY! My Grandmother gave me a list of ingedients and said,"Mija, make some empanades and make them taste like the ones I make you." So I had to try over and over. Finally! She approved. Then she said,"Mija, see if I gave you the recipe they wouldn't taste like mine, you have to find it like I did." UGH! But it worked :> No, she is not close minded, I was kidding :>

Lesley said...

Lovely story. The father walking with his little girl made me think of my dad. I'm making these as soon as I feel well enough to do it! Thanks for the great post.

Clementina said...

Hola, Tera!
You must have a very cool abuelita--spunky and a lot of fun. The best kind of grandma to have!

Hola, Lesley!
Every little girl deserves to have a father who will bring her the moon. Wouldn't the world be a better place if all fathers felt that way about their daughters? Hope that you feel better!

K said...

I have to try this. Will let you know how it goes! They just look beutifully made!

pina said...

Such a pleasure to read the stories you write. Thanks for another beautifully written post. Need to try the empanadas--will they bring ME magic???!!


Clementina said...

Hola, K!
I would love for you to tell me how the empanadas (especially the pastry) turned out for you. And if you find any problem with the recipe, just send me a little email, okay?

Hola, Pina!
I don't think the pumpkin empanadas are magical, but when made from a REAL pumpkin, they just taste like they do. Thank you for enjoying my little story, and please drop by again!

Anonymous said...

Love your site! I'm a regular visitor. Your recipe reminds me of our Lola's. Your food reminds me that Filipinos and Mexicanos are one in tradition.

un abrazo,


Clementina said...

Magadang gabi, Withonespast!
SALAMAT PO--Thank you for visiting! I have many Filipino friends, and I have noticed the shared traditons, which is something that I just love. When I was little I used to think that Filipinos were just another kind of Mexican. (I must have sensed the connection.)
In fact, just this weekend I attended a Mexican-Filipino wedding. The LECHON was out of this world delicious. The dancing and entertainment--amazing!

NAGAGALAK AKON MAKILALA KAYO--it was nice to meet you, and please give a fuerte abrazo to you LOLA (abuelita, grandma) for me.


McCopygirl said...

thank you for this blog I just discovered it and it brings so many good memories to mind of when my abuela and mom would get together and cook a feast! Gracias..

Clementina said...

Hola, McCopygirl!
I'm so glad you like my blog, and may you one day make a fiesta with your own daughter using the recipes that your abuelita has passed down to you.

Anonymous said...

I have visited your site and loved it. Would you like to do a guest post for my blog? Minimum 500 words/as long as you wish. Topic: anything to do with school, classes, teachers, parents, books, writing, your blog, or life in general or your life.


I hope you decide to participate in Blog Brag. Every Saturday I celebrate a blog. Make it yours.
Write an article of 500 words or more/no limit. Answer 3 questions.
What is your blog about?
What motivated you to do this blog?
What do you offer the visitors to your blog?
Send the article to me at my email addy. First come/First Posted.

Thank you for your support and participation.

u r awesome

Jo Ann Hernandez
BronzeWord Latino Authors

MiLatina said...

I made these last night with my daughter and niece. We were not sure how they would come out because the pumpkin was a little stringy and I tried to get most of the moisture out. You will need a food processor because the blender didn't to the job. I used my molcajete! (spelling?) All in all they were very tasty and I enjoyed spending the time with the girls!
Thank you so much for this blog!

glutster said...

Wow, this is the premiere food that encapsulates fall and growing up with my parents.

My mom makes these Empanadas the EXACT SAME WAY you just explained, 'La Piña' Flour and all, I am actually going to be making them for eatmyblog, this foodblogger bake sale going on this Saturday in L.A.

I'll post the recipe soon after too.

By the way, reading your blog warmed my heart and reminds me of the kind of dialogue me and my family have--

Really nice job, I'm looking forward to reading more :)

mucho love!

prashant said...

They are my favorite.

Domain registration india

Lorena said...

vodka in the pastry dough huh? my recipe calls for beer and it is pretty good.I'll have to try yours, but not when I plan on driving! Can you tell us a story about, and give us a recipe for Champorado? It is very cold here, and I am so craving it. Gracias

Clementina said...

Hola, Lorena!
It wasn't until I posted my recipe that I found out about the beer. Seeing that beer and vodka both contain alcohol, I can see why either vodka or beer would add needed moisture without causing tough or gummy pastry.

A story with champurrado? My storytelling circuits are dry right now, but I think I will have myself a drink. I will certainly try!

julie said...

making your carnitas tonight! pumpkin empanadas next!

Chef E said...

Wow'zer! I love these, a good one for the family gathering soon...I may play with these tomorrow since I just made pie crust tonight and its in the fridge, how did I miss this?

You are an awesome cook...

Anonymous said...

We've missed your gentle and tasty prose, Clementina. I hope all is well and please hurry back. Merry Christmas!


Clementina said...

Hola, Michael G!
I was wondering whatever happened to you. I will be blogging again in January. Thanks for visiting and see you next year!

Mercedes said...

My daughter Monica, from Mi Cielito Lindo, just shared this blog with me and it's great! You really need to set it up so that people can Become a Fan of your blog on Facebook!

Anonymous said...

Clementina where are you!!! I miss your entries... please help this girl keep cooking just like her abuelita! Hope the holidays are going great =)

Gloria said...

Oh boy, I am just loving your blog. This is my kind of blog. Now I know where to get recipes. Gracias amiga!

Sra. López said...

I loved the story. I hope I'll feel ambitious enough to give the recipe a try sometime. I love empanadas and I love pumpkin, but I've never had them together!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just tryed the empanada recepie that you have on your page and so far the though looks great way better than the one that I had made before I was getting very frustrated at my self... also wanted to let you know that I know that you said to add the water and Vodka gradually but I did the Vodka and then the water but then noticed that I really didn't need the water lol ... I hope that it still comes out great hehe

Clementina said...

Hola, Anonymous!
Hmm, just make sure you don't light a match while you are eating the empanadas!
Also, I made some empanadas wtih beer with very good results.

Lilbrat said...

OK I will try not to light a match... but I would like to see that reseta with the beer...
I have some resetas my self that I invented but I'm not sure how to write it out like you do....

Anonymous said...


I will make sure not to light a match went doing the empanada... and I would love to try the ones with beer... I have some resetas my self but I don't know how to write them out like you do...

Clementina said...

Making them with beer is easy. Just delete the ice water and the vodka and use 8 tablespoons of ICE COLD beer instead.
Please take care--mi casa es su casa!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to make your pumpkin empanadas for my Spanish class this week. I'm sure my teacher will like them! Can I share your story with my classmates? I will be sure to give you copyright credit.
Thank you for the great recipe!

Clementina said...

Hola, Laura!
Yes, of course you can share this story with your classmates, but please give me credit and print my web address, okay?
Now about the empanadas: just make sure you poke a little hole in each empanada before baking so the steam will escape and the empanadas won't split open. Remember, you can tweak these if you want. Taste the pumpkin puree mixtue and add more/less spice or sugar until it tastes just the way you like it! Remember, don't be stingy when you fill each empanada!
have fun!

Kelphead said...

Thank you so much for posting this Mexican recipe. I have the fondest memories of making these exactly as you describe with my abuelita, God rest her soul. I wanted to start this tradition with my daughter and share this for many years to come (she's only three now :) But the enduring memories will be something I hope she treasures forever, as I treasure the memories of my abuela. My daughter is of many ethnicities, Mexican/Salvadoran (from me) and Caucasian/Vietnamese (from her dad.) It's extremely important to me that she is in touch with her awesome Latina-ness :)

Clementina said...

Hola, Kelphead!
I hope you'll like the empanadas, but feel free to tweak them to your taste. And thank you so much for your kind works, and I know how you feel! That is why I started my blog. thanks for visiting and come again!

Steffani said...


I am planning on making the Pumpkin Empanadas for my husband. It is his favorite. I am wondering whether you can leave the dough in overnight, or if it has to be made the same day!

Thank you,


Clementina said...

Dear Stefani--
Please forgive me for not writing sooner!
I have never refrigerated the dought beforehand, but frankly, I do think that it is worth a try. Don't forget to taste test the mixture and adjust it to your taste.
Please take care and thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

I just love your story of the little girl with her grandpa. You really should write a book about this. I'll be the first in line to buy one for my daughter. And, I'm sure I'm not the only one that would love to see it published. Am I right?

Claudette :)

Anonymous said...

thank you for this delicious recipes i love them i tried the pumpkin moon empanadas for my son whoi is turning 25 years old this halloween . have a safe and happy halloween thank you once again :)

Pattijean said...

I just roasted a pumpkin. I knew I waited for the right recipe. I cannot wait to do it like abuela does it!