Bunuelos are part of local cuisine all over Latin America. These delicious sweet-savory doughnuts came to Latin America from Spain and have evolved into various forms in different regions.
These Colombian-style bunuelos are made with cottage cheese and/or farmers cheese, which are substitutes for a traditional Colombian soft fresh white cheese called "queso costena," and tapioca starch.
Colombian bunuelos are round and less sweet than some of the other varieties, such as Mexican bunuelos. They are a popular Christmas treat in Colombia, when they are typically served with a pudding/candy called "natilla."
- 1 1/2 cups drained cottage cheese (or whole milk ricotta cheese or shredded queso fresco)
- 1/2 cup white salty cheese (such as feta or farmers cheese)
- 3/4 to 1 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup sweet yuca starch (tapioca starch)
- 1/4 light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon butter (softened)
- 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
- Optional: powdered sugar
Crumble or grate the two cheeses together, making sure that they are grated very finely.
Mix the cheese, cornstarch, tapioca starch, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, and butter in a large bowl until well-blended.
Knead the dough until it is smooth. It will be soft but should not be sticky and firm enough to shape into balls. Add more cornstarch if the dough seems too wet. If the dough seems too dry or crumbly, add a small amount of milk (1 to 2 teaspoons at a time) until it is smooth.
Take about 2 tablespoons of dough into the palms of your hands and shape the dough into a very smooth ball.
Heat several inches of oil in a heavy pot to 325 F.
Add the bunuelos, a few at a time, and cook. They will sink to the bottom, then rise and expand.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or longer if needed, turning them occasionally until they are golden brown.
Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Bunuelos are great party food, whether for a Christmas celebration with friends or family or ringing in the new year. Because they are mostly savory -- cheesy -- but a little bit sweet because of the brown sugar and a dusting of powdered sugar, finding a festive drink to serve that will harmonize with the fritters is a head-scratcher.
If you tend in the sweet direction, serve up hot chocolate, coffee spiked with Irish cream whiskey or Irish cream on the rocks. Hot toddies with honey are a bit less sweet and might be more to your taste. Or serve spicy orange tea spiked with Grand Marnier for a more neutral taste. It's all good on a cold winter's night.