One of the traditions I started in my family was the New Year’s Eve Buñelos. I love buñelos the way my grandmother Lupe made them, crispy and airy; bubbly and delicate. She always made them during Lent (no idea why, but I’m sure there’s a particular reason) and she always made rich, delicious miel (Spanish for honey but this is a syrup) flavored with cinnamon, anise estrella, a touch of orange zest and piloncillo.
She’d serve out the buñelos in a bowl with the hot spiced syrup steaming over it. We’d crack the buñelos into pieces with a sppon and scoop the crispy/starting to get soggy warm bites right into our mouths. Mmmm…nothing beats the taste. We’d always drink her Atole Blanco with it and I loved that too.
I don’t celebrate Lent, but gosh I love buñelos and I didn’t want my children or grandchildren to miss out on the whole process of making, then eating them so I started making them on New Year’s Eve at midnight while watching the Time’s Square ball drop on T.V. I like them even more now than I did at Lent. It’s wonderful here at midnight with the grandkids here in their pajamas and fuzzy slippers, sipping Atole Blanco and eating my grandmother’s buñelos en miel. I think you’ll enjoy them too.
About 3 cups of flour, sifted twice
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon and a half of sugar (use the Mexican kind of beige cane sugar for a better texture)
About 1?2 cup butter
The boiled water with tomatillo husks (still hot, but only as hot as your hands can stand)
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs one by one, and sprinkle on the sugar. Mix well. Cut in the lard with a fork or pastry cutter. Slowly add the hot water and start amasando or kneading the masa (dough). Add the water little by little or your dough will be too sticky. When it all holds together and is silky smooth without being sticky then it’s ready. I form it into balls and let them rest, covered with a cloth on the wood pastry board for about ten-15 minutes. Get your rolling pin dusted lightly with flour and sprinkle a little on the board. I use a wood board. It’s what my grandma used and it feels right. Make sure there are no splinters though.
Roll out your buñuelos as thin and as round as you can. If you hold them up, you should be able to see right through them. Slide gently into hot oil. I use canola oil and a cast iron frying pan. Fry till golden brown on each side. Only turn once or you end up with soggy or overcooked buñuelos. Pull out with tongs and let the oil drip off before placing on a try lined with brown paper to absorb the oil. Don’t use paper towels, use brown paper. It’s better. Set your buñuelos aside and make the miel and atole.
Cinnamon sticks (canela)
1 anise estrella (star anise) – optional
Water Take about four cones of piloncillo and stand them up in a pan with two or three sticks of cinnamon. Slowly add in just enough water to cover the bottom of the saucepan and turn on the flame to medium. Keep on the stove for about an hour, slowly adding more and more water as it reduces. You should have an almost pancake syrup consistency and your whole house will smell wonderful. You can add more piloncillo if you like. If you add to much water in the beginning you’ll have basically sweet water. At the last minute add in little orange blossoms if you can get them. Ladle the hot syrup over a buñuelo and eat with a spoon. Some people just dust theirs with sugar and cinnamon but this is how we do ours. Warning: Very, very, very sweet and rich. Yum.