December 23, 2013

Colombian buñuelos and miguelucho for Christmas!

In Colombia, it's traditional to have buñuelos, which are fried cheesy dough balls made from yuca and corn starch- not to be confused with cornballs, as made famous in Arrested Development ;).  These savory goodies are accompanied with something sweet on the side, either natilla or miguelucho, both variations on caramel with coconut.  Equally delicious, and totally different textures.  As a bonus, these goodies are also gluten-free.

Both sweets are best made with panela, which is unrefined cane sugar, which is just reduced cane juice that still has all the molasses intact and is a really rich caramel flavor.  I highly recommend it in place of white or even brown sugar- tasty stuff that you can easily find at your local Latin market or even the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store. It comes in fairly solid blocks- crush or chop it to make it easier to dissolve.

Miguelucho (thick caramel sauce with coconut chunks)

4.25 cups (1 liter) whole milk
juice from 1 citrus fruit (tangerine, clementine, or lime)
1/2 lb panela
1/2 small coconut, chopped into small pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
pat of butter

Yield: about 60 tsp of finished sauce, enough for 60 buñuelos.

1. In a wide-diameter stock pot, heat the milk and citrus juice over medium heat.  Add the panela and make sure it's completely dissolved.  The panela and juice will gently curdle the milk, so it should look just a tiny bit chunky.

2. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, coconut chunks, and pat of butter.

3. Stir continuously (I recommend having some company for this part! Or at a minimum some fun holiday beverages and music to keep you entertained), keeping the mixture on a gentle boil/ simmer to reduce it.

4. Keep reducing the mixture until you have about 1/5- 1/4 of your original volume and it's quite thick and sticks together.  This step can easily take an hour.

5. Turn out the mixture onto a dinner plate to let it cool.  It should be about 1" thick on the plate and look pretty caramelized.


2 boxes buñuelo mix (we usually use Goya brand)
2 lbs quesito or cuajada (if you can't find these traditional cheeses, queso fresco is a good substitute)
2 eggs, fork-beaten
1-2 cups milk (start with 1 cup, then add up to another to achieve a nice moist consistency)
4-6 cups vegetable oil, for frying

1. Mix the buñuelo mix together in a bowl.

2. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over medium-low heat.

3. Make a miniature buñuelo as a tester- something about the size of a marble- and drop it into the oil.  The dough should be surrounded by tiny bubbles and float when the oil is the right temperature.

4. Make balls of dough that are about 1 1/2" diameter (ping pong ball size), and drop them into the oil and fry the buñuelos.  They spin themselves in the oil, which is fun to watch!  Remove when they're golden brown, and pat them dry with a paper towel.

5. Enjoy them warm with the miguelucho!

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