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Monday, September 21, 2020

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Empanadas

I always thought of empanadas as a uniquely South American food. There was a great Argentinian restaurant within walking distance of my Hollyweird apartment, and I'd always get the empanadas there. I've seen them on the menu at Brazilian places, too. But apparently Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, the Philippines, and pretty much every Latin American country does empanadas.

Mexico does empanadas for sure, but Sonia isn't particularly familiar with them. She grew up eating more sauce and cheese-based foods typical of southern Mexico, where her family is from. She thinks empanadas are probably more popular with the Norteños.

And now Trader Joe's is getting in on the empanada action, and since it's almost fall, they went with pumpkin. Who could have seen that coming?


Thank goodness it's a pumpkin empanada and not a pumpkin spice empanada. Or is it? In my opinion, it's walking a fine line between the two. 

They could have gone in the dessert direction and made something akin to the legendary caramel apple empanada from Taco Bell. They could have made it super sweet, glazed it with sugar, and packed it with loads of pumpkin pie spice. Or they could have gone the savory route and filled the empanada with butternut squash and veggies.

But what we have here is a pastry shell filled with super smooth, semi-sweet pumpkin filling, and most of the requisite pumpkin spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and ginger. I don't think it's quite sweet enough to be considered a dessert item, although some may disagree. Since pumpkin puree is the number one ingredient, there's enough actual pumpkin flavor to offset the brown sugar sweetness.

The outer shell is excellent. The crust is just firm and flaky enough, yet supple and soft. It's crispy, but slightly doughy, and it has a nice bready taste. Also, it isn't oily or greasy—another plus.

These would function pretty well as appetizers, or as a side dish with a fall-themed meal. $3.99 for four empanadas. 1 empanada = 1 serving. They were fun to try, but we probably won't be picking them up again on our next TJ's run. Something like three and a quarter stars a piece...

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

1 comment:

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