A Classic Mexican Confection for the Holidays: Buñuelos

In the southwestern United States, the timeless tradition of making buñuelos during the holidays, bring back fond memories in the minds of all Latinos, even their non-Latino friends who quickly grow an addiction to the tasty treats.  Buñuelos can be easily described as a fritter-like, fried flat bread covered in cinnamon sugar, but it's much more than that.  It's a symbol of family, tradition, and sweet deliciousness in Latino culture.  Every year I see more grocers mass producing the desert and selling them by the dozen, but they lack the flavor, fun, and quality time that homemade buñuelos offer.  Much like my Polvorones recipe, this recipe was passed down to me from my grandmother:

Marina's Buñuelos:

-  4 cups Flour
-  2 tablespoons Sugar
-  1/2 teaspoon Salt
-  1/4 cup Butter, melted
-  1 cup Water
-  1 tablespoon Anise Seed
-  2 Eggs, beaten
-  Cinnamon Sugar (for coating)
-  Canola Oil (for frying)

Heat frying oil to about 370 degrees in a large frying pan (a deeper pan is better, or a large pot for deep frying that can hold something about 10 inches in diameter).  Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt and set aside.  In a small saucepan, bring the anise seed and water to a slow boil and simmer for 5 minutes (about medium to medium-high heat).  Remove from heat and allow anise seed tea to cool.  Add eggs and butter to flour mixture and combine well.  Strain anise seeds out of the tea using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.  Add anise tea to flour mixture and kneed into a dough.  Form dough into 25 balls.  Roll out the dough balls as thinly as possible on a floured surface.  Deep fry the rounds until golden, about 30 seconds or so.  Drain the buñuelos on paper towels thoroughly, and then generously apply cinnamon-sugar to coat while still a bit warm.

The key ingredient is the anise tea.  It offers a hint of aromatic flavor that compliments the pastry nicely, without being overpowering.  I hope you enjoy this recipe with family and loved ones over the holiday season, and it just might  have your family begging for them year-round!

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