1 1/2 cups dried pears (about 3/4 pound)
2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup lard, cold
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 1/2 cup iced water
1 large egg, beaten, for egg wash
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup buttermilk
In a covered pot, simmer the pears in the water for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft. Drain and reserve the liquid. When pears are cool, place them in a blender with just enough reserved liquid to make a thick puree. Heat 1/2 cup of the leftover pear liquid in a saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup of the sugar and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sugar begins to caramelize. Add the pear puree, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and cloves, stirring well. Remove from heat and cool. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set mixture aside.
Prepare dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour with the lard, butter and salt. Mix lightly with your fingertips until the dough forms grapesized pieces. You should still be able to see chunks of fat. Stir in the iced water. Lightly knead, handling dough as little as possible, until the dough forms a ball. Add a little more iced water if necessary. Transfer to a plastic bag and shape into a log. Seal the bag, pressing out any air, and chill 1 hour or as long as 3 days. The dough can be frozen for as long as a week. On a lightly floured board, roll out dough to 1/8inch thickness and cut 4inch circles. Brush the edge of each circle with the beaten egg mixture and place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center. Fold dough over to enclose filling. Seal the edges by pressing the top to bottom with the tines of a fork. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place empanadas on a baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg wash. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. With a sharp knife, cut three small slits in the top of each for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, or until dough is golden. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool slightly and serve warm with crema or blue cheese.
Whisk the cream and buttermilk together. Cover and set in a warm place (a gas oven with just the heat from the pilot is fine) for 8 hours. Crema may be kept in the refrigerator as long as a week
Yield: 2 cups
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