The basic experience of this south-american classic is always the same: a golden dough patty that deliciously breaks down in the mouth, which then releases the taste from its juicy filling previously trapped inside. The empadinha is a Brazilian evolution that stemmed from an adaptation of the Portuguese empadões - which were also known as pastelões - these were larger pasties, filled with chicken, shrimp or meat.
The smaller bodied brazilian adaptation of the pastelões became known as the empadas de caixa, and these ended up inspiring the name Empadinha. Some say that the word empadinha is a diminutive of his cousin, the empanada, which in term derives from the latin word panis, or bread.
This snack became popular in bars, bakeries and also children's parties all the way to exclusive shops. Brazilian creativity at work created a variety of empadinha with unusual savory and sweet flavors (for dessert). The empadinhas have a very light weight, easily combining with various types of filling, even the most exotic.
In addition to the innovations in flavor, the "empadarias" (bakeries specialized in empadas) began selling this product in convenient and creative ways, making them easier to eat (with paper cups) and such. In Brazil the empada carries an emotional dimension which is a connection that brings back personal memories of most people's childhood. If it is eaten combined with other foods, such as a good salad, these can easily become a legitimate meal.
Yield: 8-12 servings
Heart of Palm Empadas
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 200 g of cold butter
* cut into small pieces
* 1 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
* salt to taste
* 1/2 cup cold milk
* 1 slightly beaten egg yolk for brushing the Empadinhas
* 1/3 cup of chopped onions
* 4 tablespoons of butter
* 6 ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (pass the seeds through a sieve and reserve the juice)
* 2 large cups heart of palm, chopped
* 3 tablespoons of chopped chives
* 4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
* salt and black pepper to taste
1) Preparing the filling:
In a saucepan, fry the onion in butter until translucent. Add the tomatoes with the reserved juice and cook until they start to break up. Add the chopped heart of palms with 1/2 cup water and boil for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients for the filling and set aside.
2) Now the dough:
On a flat working surface, mix the flour, the butter, baking powder and salt with your fingers, shape it like a mountain. Open a hole in the middle and gradually pour the milk in, and kneading until this mixture is flat and smooth. Divide this dough into 30 small 3 inch in diameter circles (5 cm) and distribute the filling at their center. Roll the remaining dough and using a 3 inch circle shape cut the other shapes, and fill them.
3) Baking them:
Seal the edges with your fingers so that they will not open while cooking. Seal the edges more by pressing them with the tip of a fork. Brush with the beaten egg yolk then bake in the oven, preheated to 350 °F (180 °C), for 20 minutes or until nicely golden. Let them cool down for 10 minutes, unmold and serve.