It’s almost the weekend and a long weekend at that–anyone else excited? Tonight I’m going to see Clarence Carter perform at an outdoor venue (who knew Roanoke could get a cool soul musician???), then tomorrow is a half day of work, and then I’m off to Richmond for a bit. Vegan food on the horizon! I’m thinking I’ll have to talk my uncle and his wife into getting Ethiopian–it’s been far too long since I had some injeera. Anyone else have exciting plans?

Part of getting ready for Clarence Carter was preparing a bit of concert food. Since they don’t allow coolers in (I hate that policy–I have no desire to buy an overpriced Bud Light) I decided not to go whole hog (err…tofu) with the picnic idea, but rather to just bring a little snack. And last weekend when I picked up the sweet red cherries at the farmers market I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do with them. Make cherry empanadas of course! So tonight I’m taking some empanadas to the concert. A little bourgeois, maybe, but whatever.

Now you know me, I can’t just make a simple version of anything (unless it’s intentionally simple). Thus the gluten-free buckwheat cherry chocolate empanada was born. Maybe this empanada isn’t exactly authentic, maybe it’s more like a handpie–I don’t know. All I know is that they’re out of this world, with hardly any sugar added. Who would want to mask the tart sweetness of the cherries? The buckwheat gluten-free pastry gives the empanada a savory side which, I think, pairs well with the tart-sweet-smooth chocolatelyness of the filling. And instead of making a typical cherry pie-like filling, I went with the apple pie filling route: just cherries, chocolate, a dash of sugar & lemon juice, voila. They get two thumbs up from my non-gluten-free, non-vegan testers, so I guess that’s a win. So go make some fruit empanadas this weekend with whatever is fresh in your area! You won’t regret it!

Buckwheat Cherry Chocolate Empanadas

For the pastry:
3/4 c buckwheat flour
1/2 c chickpea flour
1/4 c rice flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2/3 c Earth Balance/butter substitute
1/4-1/2 c ice water

For the filling:
1 1/2 c sweet red cherries
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp rice flour

In a large bowl, combine the gluten-free flours, salt, sugar, and xanthum gum.

Using a pastry cutter, cut in the Earth Balance in tablespoon size chunks until it is mealy with no chunks of Earth Balance left.

Add the ice water a little at a time, using a spoon to evenly distribute it until a large clump/ball forms. You only want the pastry wet enough to press into a ball–no wetter.

Wrap in saran wrap and let chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, pit the cherries and cut them in half. I used this trick to pit them from the Kitchn and it worked great! Chop the chocolate.

In a small bowl, combine the chocolate and cherry halves with the sugar, lemon juice, and rice flour. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two baking sheets with oil.

Take the pastry out of the fridge. Using only a small chunk at a time (a small fist-sized chunk), roll out the dough between parchment/wax paper or saran wrap (I used the latter and it worked fine). You want the dough to be approximately 1/4 inch thick, no thinner.

Using something approximately 4″ in diameter (I had a giant coffee cup that worked), cut a circle from the dough.

Place on the baking sheet where you’re going to bake it (the dough can be hard to work with, you don’t want to use it much) and place 1-2 tbsp of the cherry mixture on one half of the circle. Fold over in half and pinch the edges closed. Repeat until there is no more dough/cherries.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown at the edges. Let cool for 15 minutes before eating.

Makes 15 empanadas.

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