To bake the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 400°. Place prepared empanadas about 2 inches apart on baking sheets that are greased or lined with parchment or silicone sheets. Brush lightly with the beaten egg.
Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating pans about halfway through, or until the meat pies are golden brown and puffy. Remove the pans from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
To fry the empanadas: Heat about 1 inch of canola, peanut or vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat until the oil is 360°-375°. (If you do not have a frying thermometer, this is the stage where the oil is shimmery, looks like it has a current running through it and bubbles quickly when food is dropped into it.)
Carefully drop only as many meat pies into the oil as can comfortably fit in without touching. Fry about 4-6 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate or pan lined with paper towels to drain. Cool about 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.
While the meal itself takes weeks to decide, the dessert takes months. The boys pore over my cookbooks and discuss ideas and designs with me.
The request this year for the final birthday bash dessert was, mercifully, much easier than last year's fondant-covered sculpture number. I made a proper Boston Cream Pie at the last birthday boy's request, but doubled the cake and pastry cream recipes in order to play around with it a bit. The result of the experimentation was a Boston Cream Pie Trifle that has already been claimed for two of next year's birthdays.
I opted for a homemade buttery cake, but you can substitute a yellow cake from a box mix or a purchased yellow cake as a shortcut if time is of the essence. The vanilla pastry cream really makes the whole dessert, so go all out on it!