This is an absolutely whimsical way to treat your strawberries this season! Honestly, I usually eat my strawberries whole, nibbling around the stems. If I’m feeling energetic, they get hulled, sliced and strewn over waffles. So, I must have been feeling inspired, but I was looking for a fun way to use strawberries for dessert and I remembered a Martha Stewart (don’t be afraid) recipe for Strawberry Hand Pies I had made and liked but wanted to make more interesting.
My thoughts traveled back to a wonderful brunch we shared with friends this winter where our basket of freshly baked pastries arrived with strawberry-thyme jam. Normally, I might have forgotten this entirely, except the server insisted that we were eating strawberry-tarragon jam. Not to be a know-it-all, but I know my herbs (at least, the ones I grow in my garden), and that was not tarragon in my jam, but thyme. The restaurant is quite wonderful, and so, I won’t incriminate them, but what they meant was “thyme.” The poor chef was clearly being thrown into confusion by the letter “T.” I wouldn’t recommend tarragon with strawberry jam anyway, and (even if they don’t realize it), neither would they. In the empanadas, just enough thyme was a perfect fit, without overpowering the flavor of the fresh berries.
So, here you go. These are light, flaky, and as one of my guests said: “Taste like Paris.” Never having eaten in Paris (on my list!), I will take their word for it. What is special, is serving something just for your guests (everyone gets their own), featuring flavors of the season. Strawberries abound, and even my thyme made it through the winter and is on its way to thriving in our garden this summer.
Strawberry Thyme Empanadas
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Hand Pies recipe
Note: This recipe can be cut into thirds to serve either 3, 6, or the full recipe makes 9. I serve these with a big dollop of freshly whipped cream and a sprig of fresh thyme.
Ingredients for pastry dough:
- 3 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
- 9 Tbsp. iced water (approximately)
Preparation for pastry dough:
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. If you are doing this without a food processor, cut the butter in with a pastry blender, or two forks — it takes longer, but I did it this way for years!
- With machine running, add iced water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky: be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: if it is crumbly, add a touch more iced water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If you are doing this without the machine, just use your hands to mix and incorporate the water into the dough.
- Divide dough into three equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to one month.
Ingredients for filling:
- 2 and 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut in half (or quarters, if they are extra large)
- 1 and 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. corn starch
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- All-purpose flour, for work surface
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- sugar for sprinkling
Preparation for Empanadas:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, add strawberries, thyme, sugar, and cornstarch; stir to combine, set aside.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough into a large rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch cookie cutter (or in my case, the inner round of a dinner plate), make impression in dough and cut out rounds. You should get three to four rounds out of each ball of dough, with a bit left over. Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet.
- Place about 2 Tbsp. of the strawberry mixture onto one-half of each round. Lightly brush egg around the edges. Fold dough over to enclose, forming a half moon. Gently press edges together to seal (I used a fork to form the edges). Brush the tops of each empanada with egg. Using a pairing knife, slash the top of each empanada. Sprinkle generously with sugar.
- Bake until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a wire rack or a large wooden cutting board to cool slightly before serving.