Buñuelos Colombianos: Colombian Cheese Fritters

By: Ana Sofia Pelaez

While it seems like the holidays begin earlier every year, in Colombia the season has always started on Dec. 7 with la noche del alumbrado , or Day of the Candles . People light candles in their homes and by parks, public landmarks, stores and churches. The celebration continues on Dec. 16 with the first of nightly novenas that will continue until Christmas Eve, when families and friends gather for prayers, petitions, villancicos (carols) and, of course, food.

While the observances vary from family to family, one constant element is the  buñuelos : fritters made out of a smooth dough composed of fresh cheese blended with cornstarch, an egg and milk. I was given this recipe by family friend Oscar Marin who recalls buñuelos made with freshly ground corn in his youth. He makes sure to get the oil to just the right temperature so that the buñuelos rise to the top and swell up as they turn in the oil. If they rise too quickly, they won’t cook all the way through — too slowly, they’ll take on too much oil and become heavy. Traditionally served with hot chocolate or natilla made with whole cane sugar for the perfect combination of salty and sweet, buñuelos are a seasonal treat that are longed for year-round.

Bu ñ uelos Colombianos: Colombian Cheese Fritters Recipe

Yield: 24 buñuelos
Ingredients:

1 pound fresh cheese, like costeño, cotija, or mozzarella, finely grated

1 cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large whole egg
1 large egg yolk
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
4 cups canola oil

Combine the cheese, cornstarch, sugar and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the egg and mix until well-combined. If the dough appears dry, add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to form a smooth dough that holds together. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough and shape into individual balls.

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy 4-quart pot to 375 degrees F, then reduce the heat to medium (see note). Working in batches, fry the buñuelos up to 6 at a time, until they are golden on all sides, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Serve with natilla de panela or hot chocolate.

Cooking note: The oil is at the right temperature when a buñuelo added to the oil sinks to the bottom, then rises to the surface in 45 to 60 seconds. Test with the first buñuelo, adjust temperature accordingly, then proceed with the remaining buñuelos.

Ana Sofia Peláez covers the spectrum of Spanish and Latin American cuisine on her blog, hungrysofia.com. From the rich smells and flavors of the Cuban food she grew up with to modern Peruvian causas, hearty Brazilian feijodas and delicate Mexican flor de calabaza soup, she’s always looking for her next great meal.

Keep Reading

Next Up

A Fried Christmastime Treat: Bunuelos

Find out about Colombian Christmastime food traditions, like bunuelos, natilla and manjar blanco.

Dinner Party Game Plan + Recipes

Planning a dinner party should be as fun as attending one. Follow this game plan for a seamless menu (we'll leave the guest list up to you). 

Cheesy Parmesan Spoon Bread

Nealey Dozier adds a bit of Parmesan to her easy spoon bread recipe to make it even more indulgent. Get the recipe at Cooking Channel.

Venezuelan Pan de Jamon: Christmas Ham Bread

Get the recipe for Pan de Jamon from Cooking Channel to prepare traditional Venezuelan Christmas Bread.

Party in Five: Belgian Waffle Bar Holiday Brunch

For a simple Christmas brunch food idea, set up a Belgian waffle bar with toppings (and easy DIY decorations to match).

A Caribbean Christmas Cocktail: Sorrel Punch

What is sorrel punch? Find out plus get the best recipes for Jamaican sorrel punch at Cooking Channel.

Holiday Specials Preview: 'Tis the Season with Rosanna Pansino, Chuck Hughes and More

Get a guide to Cooking Channel's holiday specials, including recipes and ideas from Rosanna Pansino, Rev Run, Chuck Hughes and more.

TV's 5 Best Christmas Food Moments, from 30 Rock to Gilmore Girls

Get the best Christmas TV episodes, including The O.C.'s Chrismukkah, The Office, Gilmore Girls, 30 Rock, Friends and more on Cooking Channel.

On TV

Sugar Showdown

7:30am | 6:30c

Sugar Showdown

8:30am | 7:30c

Sugar Showdown

9:30am | 8:30c

Unique Sweets

10am | 9c

Unique Sweets

10:30am | 9:30c

Unique Sweets

11am | 10c

Unique Sweets

11:30am | 10:30c

Extreme Cake Makers

12:30pm | 11:30c

Crazy Cakes

1pm | 12c

Crazy Cakes

1:30pm | 12:30c

Good Eats

2pm | 1c

Good Eats

2:30pm | 1:30c

Cake Wars

5pm | 4c

Cake Wars

6pm | 5c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Kids Baking Championship

8pm | 7c

Crazy Cakes

11pm | 10c

Crazy Cakes

11:30pm | 10:30c

Crazy Cakes

3am | 2c

Crazy Cakes

3:30am | 2:30c
What's Hot
What's Hot

Cheap Eats

So Much Pretty Food Here