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Coconut Empanada Recipe – Costa Rica

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These Costa Rican coconut empanadas combine sweet coconut bathed in evaporated milk and baked inside a floury pastry dough for the perfect decadent dessert.

About Coconut Empanadas

Coconut empanadas (empanadas de coco) are a popular Costa Rican sweet treat. Obviously, there are tons of coconuts in Costa Rica, so the basic ingredient is easy to find and abundant year-round.

Many old school chefs will buy a whole coconut and crack it open, then shred the fresh coconut to make the filling. I do not have the time or energy for that, and so I just buy shredded coconut at the grocery store.

This recipe calls for mile de coco, a popular homemade coconut preserve. I make the miel de coco every so often and store it in my fridge, and then just fill the empanadas de coco when I am making them.

While coconut empanadas are available at bakeries year-round, they are an especially popular Costa Rican Holy Week food.

The pastry dough for this recipe is the traditional Costa Rican recipe, also known as the 3-2-1 recipe. You’ll see why in the ingredients list below.

Costa Rican Coconut Empanada Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups white flour + 1/4 cup extra
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 box whipping cream (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup Costa Rican Miel de coco
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • tortilla press with plastic inserts
  • medium mixing bowl
  • 2 baking sheets

Instructions:

Combine flour and margarine in a mixer or just using your hands. Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and pour in about 6 ounces of the whipping cream.

Mix thoroughly until you have a nice dough the consistency of cookie dough.

Make 30 equal sized balls out of the dough. Place each ball inside your tortilla press with a plastic insert on each side (see FAQ). Press down firmly.

On half your empanada circle, place about 3 teaspoons of miel de coco. If you get too much, it will seep out when you bake and make a huge mess. I know this from experience.

Close the empanada and seal by making marks around the entire thing with a fork. I just a salad fork or a kid’s fork for this.

Place the empanadas on a lightly floured baking sheet. Lightly brush the beaten egg on the top of each empanadas with your finger or a small brush.

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes.

More Costa Rican Dessert Recipes:

Substitutions

You can substitute butter for margarine. You can also try this with half whole wheat flour. Finally, you can use just sweetened coconut instead of the miel de coco- you will just need to use a lot more and the empanadas will be a bit drier in texture.

Variations

So many! You can fill these dessert empanadas with all kinds of fillings. Here are a few of my favorites:

You can also make savory empanadas:

Serving Suggestions

We serve these for breakfast alongside gallo pinto and fresh fruit. We serve them at coffee hour with coffee, tea or agua dulce. These are also a great snack to send to school with your kids.

FAQ

What are the plastic inserts for the empanada press? – You need to make sure the empanada dough doesn’t stick to your tortilla press. In order to not use a ton of cooking oil, I take Ziploc bags and cut them into squares just a little bit bigger than the circle of my tortilla press. Then I can just place one on each side before pressing down and make perfect empanadas!

Printable Recipe

Yield: 30 empandas

Costa Rican Coconut Empanada Recipe

Filling and coconut empanadas.

These Costa Rican coconut empanadas combine sweet coconut bathed in evaporated milk and baked inside a floury pastry dough for the perfect decadent dessert.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white flour + 1/4 cup extra
  • 2 sticks margarine
  • 1 box whipping cream (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 cup Costa Rican Miel de coco
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • tortilla press with plastic inserts
  • medium mixing bowl
  • 2 baking sheets

Instructions

  1. Combine flour and margarine in a mixer or just using your hands. Make a hole in the middle of the mixture and pour in about 6 ounces of the whipping cream. 
  2. Mix thoroughly until you have a nice dough the consistency of cookie dough.
  3. Make 30 equal sized balls out of the dough. Place each ball inside your tortilla press with a plastic insert on each side (see FAQ). Press down firmly. 
  4. On half your empanada circle, place about 3 teaspoons of miel de coco. If you get too much, it will seep out when you bake and make a huge mess. I know this from experience.
  5. Close the empanada and seal by making marks around the entire thing with a fork. I just a salad fork or a kid's fork for this.
  6. Place the empanadas on a lightly floured baking sheet. Lightly brush the beaten egg on the top of each empanada with your finger or a small brush. 
  7. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 80Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 11mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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About the Author

Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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