Buñuelos would be perfect for this year’s special holiday of Thanksgivukkah since they speak of nothing but celebration. Many people in Mexico make them for Chanukah as they are fried. In a lot of oil. Truly, what one has to celebrate is being lucky enough to find buñuelos stacked high at markets, fairs and street stands in Mexico or having the time, patience and a reliable recipe to make them at home. With a stunning deep caramel color, they are light, thin and crispy yet sturdy…irresistible, especially drenched in sweet syrup and eaten bite by bite in their entirety or broken into large pieces Buñuelos may be one of the most high-maintenance treats one can make, but to cut to the chase—they are completely worth it.
- 1 pound piloncillo, chopped or shredded (about 2 cups packed) or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 true or Ceylon cinnamon stick
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon anise or orange liquor
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable shortening, plus more for buttering the bowl
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- To make the piloncillo syrup, in a medium sauce pan add the piloncillo and cinnamon stick and pour the boiling water over. If the piloncillo is not chopped or shredded, let it come undone for a few minutes under the hot water. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat until it achieves a syrupy consistency, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon, if it broke into pieces, strain the syrup into a container.
- To make the buñuelos, in the bowl of a mixer set with the hook attachment, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make room in the middle and add the egg, anise liquor and orange juice. Begin beating, at low speed, for a couple minutes. Add the butter and continue beating for another 10 to 12 minutes. The dough should be very smooth and elastic.
- Butter a large mixing bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rest for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 to 15 balls, of about 1½ inches, and place them in a baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel.
- Sprinkle your countertop and a rolling pin with flour. One by one, roll each ball into rounds of about 4 to 6 inches wide. Place each circle on top of a table or countertop. Beginning with the ones you rolled out first, continue rolling them, making sure that before each one the countertop is dusted with flour as well as the rolling pin. Roll each one as thin as you can go, without them tearing. Traditionally, cooks stretch them out with their hands as if it were pizza dough, and sometimes using bowls covered with towels and gently stretching them out. I find it is easier to continue with the rolling pin!
- Place each finished piece on the table or countertop and move on with the rest. Let all of the pieces “air” and dry for at least 30 minutes. They should be as thin as paper (or construction paper!), and feel dry to the touch.
- In a deep and large 12-inch skillet, heat enough oil to ½ inch over medium-high heat. Once the oil is very hot but not smoking, fry one buñuelo at a time. They will start bubbling up. Fry for about 20 seconds per side, until browned, then slip to the other side with a pair of tongs until it has browned and crisped on the other side. Transfer to a plate or baking sheet covered with paper towels.
- When ready to serve, you may sprinkle them with sugar and ground cinnamon or powdered sugar, or drizzle with honey or the piloncillo syrup included in this recipe.