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New Mexican Pastelitos

A traditional dried fruit pastry.

Article by: Barbara Bowman

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About Pastelitos

The term pastelitos simply means "little pies".   There are many versions which vary with the country or region in which they are made.   The dough is sometimes quite simple; a variation of pie dough while other versions use a more complex puff pastry.

In New Mexico the dough is typically a simple flour, salt, baking powder and shortening mixture.  The treats are made in large flat pans and cut into rectangles.  Common fillings include raisins, prunes, and dried apples.  The filling is cooked down to a thick paste then spread on a bottom layer of dough then topped with another layer of dough.

This simple dessert is made for special occasions and is a fall harvest tradition.

Savory Pastelitos
You can find recipes for savory pastelitos as well with fillings of meats and vegetables.  These tend to be more like small turnovers.  Here are some recipe links.

Native New Mexican Pastelitos Recipe


1/2 pound prunes
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 pound dried apples
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1 1/2 cups water 
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Pastelitos Dough

4-6 tablespoons ice-cold water
2/3 cup shortening
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat Oven to 400degrees 

  1. Place fruit in medium-sized saucepan and cover with water. Cook at medium heat until fruit is soft and almost mushy. Drain.
  2. Purée in a blender, add 1/2 cup sugar and spices, and return mixture to saucepan. Cook mixture at medium heat until it is thick. Cool slightly. 
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl and cut in shortening. 
  4. Make a well in center of dry ingredients. Add water, a small amount at a time, and work mixture into a dough. 
  5. Divide pastry in half and roll each half on a lightly floured board to fit a 9x11 inch jelly-roll pan.
  6. Line jelly-roll pan with one half of rolled pastry. Spread apricot mixture evenly over pastry. 
  7. Place second half of rolled pastry over top of apricot mixture. Cut pastry edges to just touch sides of jelly-roll pan. Press edges of pastry together with a fork to seal the edges. 
  8. Sprinkle remaining sugar and cinnamon over top of pastry. Make several vent openings in pastry with the tines of a fork. 
  9. Bake pastelitos in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. Cool and cut pastelitos into small squares.


This recipe makes about 20 servings and freezes well. 

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