What are Bunuelos?
A buenuelo is a sweet fried dough fritter traditionally served at celebrations including Christmas, Ramadan and Hanukkah. The snack is served at celebratory occasions as bunuelos are seen as a symbol of good luck, shaped as a figure of eight symbolising infinity. Made from a lightly risen dough flavoured with anise which is deep fried and finished with a sugar or syrup topping.
Where are Bunuelos from?
Spain is believed to be the birthplace of the first bunuelos, a creation by the Morisco people who were influenced by their Arabic origin and Spanish settlement to create the irresistibly sweet snack. Variations of doughnuts and fritters can be found throughout the world with bunuelos having spread through Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Bunuelos are known across the globe by names including bimuelos, bermuelos, burmuelos, bunyols and birmuelos. The sweet crisp dessert became popularised in America through colonisation, especially through Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Cuba.
How to make Cuban Bunuelos?
Bunuelos come in many forms of varying shapes, fillings and toppings, with desserts such as doughnuts, churros, waffles, puff puff and cream puffs using a similar sweet dough which is fried to form a crisp, crunchy exterior and light fluffy centre. Cuban bunuelos are distinctive in their shape and flavour, fried in a figure of eight with optional ingredients including yuca and malanga.
The Cuban root vegetable malanga provides a nutty flavouring when used for bunuelos which complements the anise in the dough. To finish the Cuban bunuelos are topped with a caramel sauce infused with anise and cinnamon as a sweet, sticky drizzle.
What is the difference between Sopapillas and Bunuelos?
Sopapillas and Bunuelos are both forms of crisp fried dough which are popular in South America. As each pastry can be prepared in many shapes, such as a ball, cylinder, pancake or doughnut, it can be difficult to see the differences.
The essential difference is that bunuelos are a form of fritter which is deep fried and typically served cool with a lighter texture. In comparison sopapillas originated in New Mexico as a form of fry bread and are made from leavened dough which is flash-fried to form a pocket of air in the centre of the pastry, served hot.