Mole is a spicy Mexican sauce made from several varieties of peppers, seeds, nuts, and good chocolate. The end result has a layered spice level, changing in intensity and flavor as it lingers on your tongue. It complements mild, creamy fall vegetables like pumpkin, squash, and sweet potatoes. You can freeze leftover mole, serve it on tempeh, scrambled eggs, or wrap it up in tortillas. This recipe can be made vegan using dark chocolate and omitting the goat cheese.
Note: The mole takes a long time to prepare, but it’s worth it. The mole paste can be made a day or so in advance, and then mixed with the onions and tomatoes later. We borrowed most of the mole recipe from ramekins.com, and the empanada dough recipe from the Joy of Cooking.
If you don’t want to make your own empanada dough, Reyna sells frozen empanada wrappers, or you can buy fresh, uncooked tortillas from them early Saturday morning. The chiles are cheapest when purchased in bulk at Reyna, too, though can be purchased in small, pricey packages at the Shadyside Giant Eagle and Whole Foods.
It helps to have a large electric griddle to cook the empanadas, but they also can be toasted in batches in a cast iron skillet.
* 10 dried ancho chiles
* 6 dried pasilla negro (or negro) chiles
* 4 dried guajillo or mulato chiles
* 6 T black raisins
* 1/2 cup almonds
* 6 T raw sesame seeds
* 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
* 1 slice French bread
* 1 corn tortilla
* 2 T cinnamon (or about six 2″ sticks)
* 10 whole cloves
* 1 t black peppercorns
* 1 1/2 t dried Mexican oregano
* 5 oz dark chocolate
* 3 large tomatoes
* 1 small onion
* 1 head garlic
* 2 t olive oil
* 1 to 2 cups vegetable broth (we use no-chicken Better than Bouillon)
* 2 medium kabocha squash (or butternut or buttercup)
* 4-6oz package of goat cheese (optional)
* 1 hand garlic
* 1 T dried sage
* 1 T dried thyme
* 1 T cinnamon (or about three 2″ sticks)
* 3 C all-purpose flour
* 1.5 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp salt
* 1.5 sticks cold, unsalted margarine (or butter)
* 3/4 C ice water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Make the empanada dough: Place flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse lightly until combined. Add margarine and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer to a large bowl and drizzle the ice water over the top. Mix gently with a fork until the flour mixture is dampened enough to gather into a ball. Shape into a flat disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the onion in half, removing the peel and bulb. Cut out the stems from the tomatoes. Cut the tops off of the two hands of garlic. Drizzle everything with olive oil. Wrap the garlic and onion in aluminum foil. Place everything in a glass baking dish, placing the squash cut-side down. Roast the tomatoes for approximately 30 minutes and the garlic, onion, and squash for approximately 45 minutes. The squash should be extremely soft.
4. Wash the dried chiles under cold running water (hot water will increase the chile fumes). Shake out the chile seeds and break off the stems.
5. Heat a cast iron skillet and toast the chiles in batches for a few minutes. The chiles should soften and slightly brown. Do not blacken them, or they will become bitter.
6. After toasting, place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Add the raisins and let soak for 30 minutes.
7. While the chiles are soaking, place the almonds, the sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, bread, and tortilla on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove them as they begin to turn golden brown.
8. Break up the cinnamon sticks, cloves and peppercorns in spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
9. Grind the chiles, almonds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds in a food processor, adding a few chiles at a time. Add some soaking water to bring it to the consistency of thick gravy (if soaking water tastes bitter, use plain water instead), so that the mole paste will puree smoothly.
10. When grinding the last batch, add the raisins, crushed spices, tortilla, bread, oregano, and chocolate, broken into small pieces. Set mole paste aside.
11. Place roasted tomatoes, their juices, onion and the squeezed-out contents of one garlic hand in a blender and puree.
12. Add the puree to the mole paste along with 1 cup of broth. Bring to a simmer in a 3-quart pot. Add more broth in small amounts until the mole is the consistency of heavy cream. Set aside.
13. Make the empanada filling: Scoop out the roasted squash into a bowl, and squeeze in the other head of garlic, ground cinnamon, thyme and sage. Mash until well combined and salt to taste.
14. If using an electric griddle, set it to 350 degrees. Divide empanada dough into 24 portions (or 12 if making large empanadas) and roll each one until it is about 1/8″ thick (nearly transparent). Small empanadas are about 4″ in diameter; larger ones are about 6.”
15. Cover half of each round with the squash mixture, leaving about a centimeter border. Small empanadas will take 1 to 2 Tbs of stuffing; larger ones will take 2 to 4. Sprinkle with goat cheese (optional). Fold the empanada in half, pressing edges together to form a half-circle. Brush emapanadas with olive oil and put on the griddle or a cast iron skillet. Cook until the underside turns golden-brown and flip. Serve hot with the mole.