The if perfect recipe to make soft and delicious Colombian buñuelos. Enjoy them with hot chocolate or a cup of coffee all year round.
Today we’ll be talking about Colombian buñuelos, which just like with Colombian natilla, has to be made during the holiday season. They’re completely inseparable and totally made for each other. However, unlike the natilla, which is only made during the holidays, buñuelos are made all year round. We, Colombians, love our buñuelos and serve them on any day and at any time. You can even find street vendors in every city dedicated to making and selling buñuelos.
And just like with natilla, in Colombia they make them with not only cornstarch, but also with cassava flour. The cheese is very particular, it’s a special cheese we call queso costeño, which is usually only found in Colombia. It’s a salty and semi-solid type of cheese that gives these cheese fritters a very distinctive flavor. But for this recipe I have an alternative, and that is the reason I posting it on the blog. I have been trying all types of cheese over the years and I finally got it down to two that I really like, Mexican queso fresco and feta cheese, a crumbly, aged, Greek cheese that has a very strong flavor. The combination of both cheeses gives these buñuelos the same unique flavor that you get from the queso costeño.
Now, another alternative would be Mexican cotija cheese because it’s very similar to queso costeño. But, I have noticed that when I use cotija cheese, the buñuelos come out dry and not too spongy. The last option would be to mix the queso fresco with the cotija, but in that case you would have to season very well with plenty of salt.
YOU WILL NEED:
- Cheese: In Colombia you can use queso costeño. In the US you can use queso fresco with feta cheese. You can also mix queso fresco with cotija cheese. Or just use the cotija, but keep in mind that if you only use this cheese, the buñuelos don’t come out as spongy.
- Cornstarch: One brand is not better than the other, so feel free to use the one you like best.
- Cassava or Tapioca starch or flour: Again, use any brand and don’t get confused with the label, you can use either one, flour or starch. However, make sure to only use sour tapioca, never sweet.
- Sugar: Don’t worry, this ingredient is only used to balance the flavor and does not make the buñuelos sweet.
- Eggs: They help bind the ingredients of the dough. I always use two and they come out phenomenal.
- Salt: The amount of salt dependes on how salty is the cheese you’re using.
- Butter: It gives the dough a very nice texture.
- Baking powder: Completely option, but it does help to make them big and spongy. Some say that it should never be used with cassava flour, but I always use it without any issues.
- Oil: You’re only using it to fry the buñuelos. Use a neutral oil with a high smoke point. Vegetable, corn, canola or sunflower oil are very good options.
And now that we solved the issue of the cheese, we also have to talk about the ideal temperature to make buñuelos. I have always heard the phrase “make sure it’s not too hot and not too cold”, and that is something that never made sense to me. I have tried to make them on low heat, medium low, medium and even medium high but they always explode and end up looking ugly and deformed. After trying different temperature settings, I decided to go a more modern route and ended up using a deep fryer. I also tried different settings with ti until I hit the magic number, which is between 325ºF – 350ºF (162ºC – 180ºC).
- Mix all the ingredients for the dough until it’s nice and smooth. If you see that it’s a bit dry, add a little bit of milk. But if you notice that it’s too wet (which tends to happen when you use extra large or jumbo sized eggs), then add more flour.
- Shape the dough into balls, any size you want.
- Deep fry them in hot oil until they are golden brown. Depending on the temperature, this can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes, some times up to 20.
And if you don’t have a deep fryer, you can also heat the oil on low heat for about 30-45 minutes until a heat proof thermometer shows the correct temperature. If you don’t own a thermometer, you can try this trick to see if it works. All you have to do is make a tiny ball with the dough and throw it into the hot oil. If the ball comes up to the surface in less the 15 seconds, that means that it is too hot. If it takes longer than 15 seconds to make it to the top, it means that it is too cold.
- 1½ cups (150g) grated queso fresco
- ½ cup (50g) grated feta cheese
- 1 cup (120g) cornstarch
- ½ cup (60g) cassava or tapioca starch or flour
- ¼ cup (50g) white granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp salt or to taste, depending on how salty is the cheese you are using
- 1 tbsp butter, softened or melted
- ⅛ tsp baking powder
- Oil for frying (Vegetable, corn, canola or sunflower)
- Mix all the ingredients (except for the oil) in a large bowl and knead until you get a very smoothe dough. If you notice that it is too dry, you can add a little bit of milk, but if you notice that it is too wet, you can add more flour.
- Shape the buñuelos with the dough by making balls that measure approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
- Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large pot until it reaches a temperature of about 325°F - 350°F (163°C - 180°C).
- Place the balls of dough in the hot oil leaving enough room for them to float.
- Deep fry them until they are golden brown. Depending on the temperature of the oil, this can take anywhere from 15-25 minutes.
- Drain them on paper towels for a few minutes before serving.