2 cups all purpose flour (9 ounces)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter (2 ounces)
1/2 cup cold water
2 teaspoons honey (I used orange blossom honey)
orange zest from 1/2 large navel orange
8 ounces Mexican white cheese (I used Queso Fresco)
Oil for frying
1 tablespoon fine granulated sugar for dusting
1. Combine the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Process while you pour in the water. Add the honey. Process until the dough comes together into a ball (about 30 seconds). Remove the dough and knead a couple minutes until it’s smooth.
2. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll them into a tight ball and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Roll the balls out with a dusting of flour until they are very thin, about 1/8″ thick. Sprinkle a little orange zest over the top and roll it into the dough with 1 clean sweep of a rolling pin.
4. Roughly grate the cheese and form a small ball of it, about 1 ounce in weight or a big heaping tablespoon. Place the ball on the round of dough a little off center. Stretch 1/2 of the dough circle over it and seal it on top of the other 1/2 of the dough circle. As you seal it, make sure you are fitting the dough around the cheese as tightly as you can. Any air trapped in there will expand with the heat of the oil, and while the bubbly surface is desired from the air expansion, you don’t want so much expansion that the cheese starts to leak out. If the dough is not sealing well, brush a little water on the bottom half of the semi-circle and stick the top half of the semi-circle to it. You can press down the edges with the tines of a fork, or do what I did (pictured) which was to stretch and fold sections over each other.
5. Heat oil in a pot (I used a Crueset casserole pot) at least 2″ deep to 380F. You want to use an oil that has a high smoking temperature like grapeseed oil or Canola. Pop the empanadas into the hot oil. They will immediately puff up and float to the top. Keep the oil between 375F and 385F for the best results and fry for 1 minute on each side or until they are a golden brown. I was able to fry 3 at a time in my pot. If you fry many more than that, the browning will get away from you since it’s very quick work. Ask a question about this step.
6. Remove the empanadas from the oil, place on paper towels and lightly dust with sugar immediately. Serve warm.