Buñuelos (fritters) come in all shapes and sizes, and lots of savory and sweet variations. They’re common throughout the Americas, so it’s fitting that they have Spanish roots. The buñuelo was invented in Spain, during the Moorish reign of Al-Mu’tamid Muhammad ibn Abbad, the last king of Sevilla.
Puerto Rico and Colombia have a salty, savory, and round buñuelo, while other countries like Mexico have flat sweet varieties typically covered in honey or cinnamon and sugar.
During the 11th century, it was difficult to find fuel such as wood or coal. According to legend, the king’s baker needed to find other ways to cook bread, so he threw a ball of dough into hot oil. The buñuelo was born.
The Spanish conquistadors brought the buñuelos to Latin America and Caribbean islands.
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Puerto Rico and Colombia have a salty, savory, and round buñuelo, while other countries like Mexico have flat sweet varieties typically covered in honey or cinnamon and sugar. Buñuelos can be made with cassava flour, corn flour, or all-purpose flour.
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I prefer the perfectly rounded airy cheesy Colombian buñuelos. This common recipe originates from the second largest city, Medellin. I can eat three or four in one sitting with a cup of hot chocolate.
In Colombia, the cheese that is traditionally used is queso costeño; if you can’t find this cheese, use a good quality feta cheese. It will yield the same salt flavor as the queso costeño. The first time I made these, I added too much cassava flour and the buñuelos came out tough and they bounced like a rubber ball. So, if the dough doesn’t look like it’s coming together, be patient. IT WILL!
Makes 8-10 buñuelos
Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cassava flour
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Kosher Salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl, excluding the vegetable oil.
In a large heavy bottom pot or a Dutch oven, add the vegetable oil three-quarters of the way. Heat the oil over a medium heat (you don’t want the oil to get too hot).
Using your hands or a wooden spoon, mix the ingredients until a soft dough has formed. Shape the balls, and place onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Once the oil has reached 350°F (about 3 minutes), add 4 to 5 balls at a time to the oil and cook until golden brown — 4 to 5 minutes.
Place freshly fried buñuelos onto paper towels to drain.