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Little desserts of Spain: quince paste turnovers recipe


These empanadas are filled with membrillo./Wikimedia Commons

We’ll wrap up the little desserts of Spain with pastelitos de dulce de membrillo – turnovers with quince paste and Manchego cheese. 

Manchego is one of Spain’s iconic cheeses. Made from sheep’s milk in the La Mancha region, it has a salty tang similar to Parmesan cheese, which you could substitute in an emergency. Manchego cheese is available at cheese shops and groceries such as Whole Foods. I’ve also seen it at Trader Joe’s.  

Membrillo is a solid gel made of cooked, pureed quince. Membrillo can be found at Spain, a restaurant and deli on Glendale Boulevard in Los Angeles, and at other Latino/Hispanic/Mediterranean groceries around LA. I’ve also bought it Altadena Food Fair, an Armenian grocery near my house. 

This recipe is from “El Farol Tapas and Spanish Cuisine” by James Campbell Caruso. ISBN: 1586851012. That big online bookseller lists it for sale, but says it takes one to two months to deliver. It may be going out of print soon with a delivery schedule like that. 


I batch empanada dough 

12 pieces of quince paste, 1/2-inch thick, 2-inch by 2-inch square

12 slices Manchego cheese, ¼-inch thick, 2-inch by 2-inch square

1 egg, beaten and mixed 2 Tbsp. water for egg wash

Powdered sugar

¼ cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped


Preheat oven to 375°. Line a jelly roll pan with a sheet of parchment paper. 

Roll out dough on a floured surface until about 1/8 inch thick. 

Cut the dough into 24 3-inch squares. 

Lay out 12 squares and brush the edges with egg wash. 

Top each of the 12 squares with a piece of quince paste and a slice of manchego cheese. 

Place the remaining 12 pieces of dough on top of the cheese slices. 

Crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork. Transfer the empanadas to the jelly roll pan. 

Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash. 

Bake 20-25 minutes until the crusts are golden brown. 

Remove the empanadas to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Dust the empanadas with powdered sugar and sprinkle with the chopped almonds. Serve with strong coffee. 

Cook’s notes: 

  • The original directions instruct that these pastries be deep-fried. If you prefer them fried, heat 1 quart vegetable oil to 350°. Fry for 1 minute until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Fry no more than 4 at a time to maintain oil temperature. 
  • Use caution when making the crust ahead. Anything with raw eggs in it should be used sooner than later. Consider freezing the empanada dough if you’re not planning on using it until the next day. 

More information: 

Here are two sources for membrillo. 

Altadena Food Fair Market and Spain, the restaurant and deli

The recipe for the empanada dough is here.   


  • Erika - LA Cooking Examiner 5 years ago

    This sounds like my kind of dessert - sweet and salty and cheesy. Hilary, I see a project in our future...and I say "our" because clearly recipes like this are more fun when you do them in pairs....

  • Hilary 5 years ago

    Oh let's - we can taste-test fried vs. baked. Remember the quince paste and Manchego we had at Taste of Santa Fe? Yum!