Bring a Latin Twist to the Holiday Table with a Bowl of Buñuelos

By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

Buñuelos ready to enjoy!Buñuelos ready to enjoy!

Christmas in Latin America comes with an array of cultural festivities that can vary from country to country. In many families, the Novena de Aguinaldos (nine days of prayer preceding Christmas) has been a tradition for decades. During the Novena, we listen to parts of the Nativity story with songs and prayers alternating throughout the reading. Family members take turns hosting the Novena in their homes, and serve traditional holiday dishes after the reading.

In my family, we gather around the Nativity scene, and each one of my sisters takes turns reading a prayer; this has been our ritual since we kids learned to read. When Grandma was with us, we had to make an enormous effort to keep calm and read each sentence correctly, because the moment one of us mispronounced a word, the rest of the sisters would burst out laughing during what should be a solemn moment. Once we'd calm down, we'd find Abuela staring right into our eyes.

mixing the corn starch with the cheese mixing the corn starch with the cheese Christmas prayer time always ended with a delicious feast of ham, cheeses, empanadas, tamales, and my all time favorite, fresh buñuelos. Buñuelos are fried cheese balls- crispy on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. They resemble a round croquette, but with a spongecake-like texture. They are usually the the size of tennis ball, but I like to make them much smaller, especially when they are served as an appetizer. In Bogotá, bakeries make them all year round, and serve them with hot chocolate or coffee for breakfast. Whatever your holiday tradition, these will make a great addition to your table. Enjoy!

dough ready to make the buñuelos dough ready to make the buñuelos

(10 buñuelos)
1 cup cornstarch
6 oz. grated white cheese curds
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt
1.5 tsp. sugar
¼ cup whole milk
3 cups canola oil for deep-frying

Try this recipe with my short-cut Natilla


Frying the buñuelosFrying the buñuelos

Mix the cornstarch and cheese in a deep bowl, and stir them well with a fork. Add the egg, and mix with clean hands. Add the salt and sugar, and gradually pour the milk continuing to mix by hand. Once the dough is manageable, form small three inch balls.

Preheat the oil in a deep frying pan at low-medium heat. Before adding the buñuelos, carefully place one small piece of dough in the oil to test the temperature; if it floats right to the top, you are ready to fry.

Fry the buñuelos for 10-12 minutes or until they become a golden color.* After frying the first batch, open one to make sure the inside is nice and fluffy. Adjust the frying time and temperature to get the desired texture inside. Drain them on paper towels, and serve them in a big bowl, family-style.

*Note: Always leave the temperature at low to avoid burning the outside before cooking the inside.

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