When I was little, every New Year's Eve, we would go to my grandmother’s house. She would open the door, grab my cheeks, and give me a big hug and kiss. The next thing to greet me was always the amazing scents of of cinnamon, sugar, and fried dough—signifying sweet, crispy buñuelos. I would run into the kitchen and see stacks, almost as tall as me, of these perfectly round, golden-brown and bubbly buñuelos, and a big pot of hot chocolate.
Even just writing this memory is taking me back and making me really happy. This is a tradition that I have kept going, no matter who I am with or what I am doing for New Year's Eve. Mainly because I know that buñuelos and hot chocolate make everyone happy and can easily slide into any N.Y.E. situation, from a solitary night at home to an all-day festivity.
A note: While I don't often recommend vegetable shortening in recipes, here, it's essential to the crispy, flaky texture of the pastries. —Rick Martinez
- Prep time 1 hour 20 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
- serves 4
(165g) granulated sugar
ground canela or cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons
(6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
(375g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
(80g) vegetable shortening, plus more for frying
- Spicy Hot Chocolate
three-inch stick canela or Cassia bark
chile cascabel or 2 chiles de árbol; or 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper
bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70% or higher), chopped
piloncillo or dark brown sugar
pure vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and cinnamon until completely combined. Set aside until ready to use.
- Whisk salt into 1 cup warm water until dissolved and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder and whisk to combine. Toss shortening into flour and smash together. Squeeze the shortening into the flour in between your fingers and palms until it’s completely incorporated; no clumps of shortening should remain and the flour should resemble damp sand.
- Pour ¾ cup warm salted water and mix with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. If dough seems dry, add 1 to 2 additional tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together and is soft and pliable but not sticky. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Wrap the dough in plastic or reusable food wrap of your choice and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to relax the dough.
- Divide dough into 12 balls (about 50g each). Roll out each of the balls to an 8-inch round on a clean, flat work surface, working with one ball one at a time. As you roll out the dough rounds, keep the remaining balls covered with a kitchen towel,
- In a medium heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat, heat 3 cups (600g) of vegetable shortening (the melted shortening should be about 1-inch deep) until an instant read thermometer reads 375°F. When the oil is hot, carefully lay the dough rounds into the hot oil and fry, gently pushing the edges down into the oil to coat the top surface of the buñuelos. Cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and fry the second side until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes more. Drain well and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. While the buñuelos are still hot, sprinkle them generously with the reserved cinnamon sugar.
- Repeat the frying process with remaining dough rounds until you’ve fried all 12 buñuelos; add additional shortening to pan for frying if necessary. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar on the buñuelos as they finish frying.
- Serve immediately with a mug of spicy hot chocolate (recipe below).
- Spicy Hot Chocolate
- In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, bring milk, cinnamon, and chile(s) to a simmer. Cover and stir the mixture occasionally, making sure milk doesn’t boil, until cinnamon is very floral and fragrant, about 15 minutes.
- Whisk in chocolate, sugar, vanilla, and salt and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture is smooth and creamy and chocolate is melted, about 5 minutes.