Say Navidad to a colombiano and one of the first things you’ll hear back is…buñuelos. As native as the arepa itself, Colombian buñuelos resemble deep-fried dough balls (think donut holes) and are traditionally served with natilla or manjar blanco.
Similar versions exist throughout Latin American with many countries making the dough from different ingredients. In Cuba, buñuelos are made with yuca and malanga and are drizzled with a simple anise-flavored syrup, while in Mexico they’re made with yeasted dough, also flavored with anise. Colombia’s are on the saltier side, made with salty white cheese curd. Legend has it buñuelos were originally created by the Moriscos, the Arabs who occupied Spain for more than 700 years. Indeed, today they remain a popular treat in Muslim countries like Morocco and Turkey.
The recipe we offer here comes courtesy of Nika Boyce, whose beautiful blog nikas-culinaria.com offers easy step-by-step instructions with great photos to help you along the way.
2 C white fresh farmers cheese, finely ground or crumbled with fork
2 C Colombian “Bunuelina” mix
milk to moisten
canola oil for deep-frying
Mix all ingredients (except oil) in a bowl.
Make balls a little smaller than the size of a golf ball. Do not compress the dough.
Heat the oil to very warm (you can stick your finger in it but not very long). Gently drop the balls into the oil and then turn up the heat. The balls will linger at the bottom of the pot until the oil heats up. They will turn themselves as they come up “for air.” Fry until light brown. Remove to a drained surface to cool.
For the next batch, let the oil cool down (doesn’t have to be as cool as when you first started) such that a test dough ball will drop to the bottom and then rise slowly to the top. Once the oil has cooled enough to do this, add your next batch. Always use a splatter shield — if you drop them into hot oil they will explode and could seriously hurt you.