For the Dough:1 cup canned light coconut milk
3/4 cups melted virgin coconut oil, plus more for brushing the dough
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
For the Filling:2 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (about 2 medium sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup peeled and diced shallots (about 2 medium shallots)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup canned light coconut milk
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a small saucepan, warm the coconut milk over medium heat until it’s just starting to simmer, about 2 minutes. Pour the warmed coconut milk into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the coconut oil and whisk to combine the two liquids. Then take the temperature of the liquid mixture. Once it’s cooled to a temperature between 105-115°F, whisk in the active dry yeast. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes at room temperature.
After 10 minutes, start slowly adding in 2 1/2 cups of the flour, mixing on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Once the flour is completely incorporated, turn your mixer up to medium speed and beat the dough for 5 minutes. The dough will look shiny and moist, but it shouldn’t be sticky to the touch. If the dough is sticky or too wet, add additional flour, incorporating in about 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough reaches the right consistency. You shouldn’t need more than an extra 1/2 cup of flour.
Using your hands, shape the dough into a ball and then place it back in your mixing bowl. Cover the bowl loosely with a thin towel and let the dough rise in a warm spot in your house for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Add the sweet potatoes, shallots, garlic, coconut milk and curry powder to a medium saucepan. Cover and bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom, until the sweet potatoes are very soft and the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes, using a wooden spoon to lightly mash the sweet potatoes while your stir. Fold in the chickpeas, cilantro, salt, nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set it aside.
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Punch down the risen dough and remove it from your mixing bowl. On a well floured surface, use your hands to roll the dough out into a long, thin log. Cut the dough into 20 equal-sized pieces.
Then shape the dough pieces into balls. Working with a couple dough balls at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the balls out into 3 1/2 to 4-inch circles. Prick the surface of the dough circles several times with the tines of a fork. Then brush the edges with a little water. Place a rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Then fold the dough in half, pressing the seams together with your fingers. Transfer the empanadas to your parchment paper-line baking sheets. Then use the tines of a fork to further press together the seams. Continue working until all the empanadas have been formed.
Transfer the baking sheets to your preheated oven and bake the empanadas for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and brush the tops of the empanadas with some melted coconut oil. Then return the baking sheets to your oven, rotating the sheets as you do so, and bake for an additional 3 minutes. The tops of the empanadas should be lightly browned.
Remove the baking sheets from your oven and allow the empanadas to cool for about 10 minutes on their baking sheets. Then using a spatula, transfer the empanadas to serving dishes. Enjoy while still warm.
Empanadas are best when eaten fresh from the oven. But they can be made several hours in advance, if necessary, and re-warmed briefly in your oven before serving.