This recipe creates a hand pie, or empanada. Many New Mexicans make a simpler version by dividing the dough in half and rolling each half into 1/8-inch-thick sheets. Spread filling on the bottom sheet and place second sheet on top. Gently press the edges together, brush with egg wash, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and bake as directed below. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.
1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon aniseed
¾ cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks), cold
6 tablespoons ice water, approximately
4½ teaspoons brandy
3 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
½ cup brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and aniseed in a large bowl.
Using a cheese grater, grate the butter over the flour mixture. With your hands, work butter into flour until dough is in pea-size pieces.
Add water and brandy and toss dough until it sticks together, being careful not to break butter into smaller pieces while blending in the water.
Turn onto lightly floured board and knead until dough just comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten into a disc, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm and ready to roll.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Stir together the cherries, brown sugar, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and almond extract in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Roll the dough out to ⅛ inch thick and cut circles with a 4-inch cookie cutter or glass, making each cut as close as possible to the next. (Scraps may be re-rolled and cut.)
Working with one piece of dough at a time and using a pastry brush, brush a ¼-inch border of egg wash around the perimeter of the dough. Spoon 2 tablespoons of cherries (about 6 halves)—leaving behind most of the juice—on one half of each circle, then fold it over into a half moon. Do not overfill. Crimp the edges tightly with a fork dipped in flour, to seal. Juice may be reserved as a sauce.
Repeat the process until all of the dough has been used.
Mix remaining teaspoon of cinnamon with sugar in a small bowl. Brush each pastry lightly with remaining egg wash and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.
Bake about 20–22 minutes, until lightly browned. Allow to cool before removing them from the baking sheet. Garnish with light dusting of powdered sugar.