Sopapillas and Natilla
These feather-light pillows of fried dough are one of the great breads of the world. They puff up like soufflés in the hot oil, and are easy to make. While you can make the dough up to 6 hours in advance, sopaipillas must be fried at the last minute, and should be made in batches so they can be eaten hot.
- Unbleached All-purpose flour - 2 cups
- Baking Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon
- Vegetable Oil - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Evaporated Milk - 1 tablespoon
- Warm Water - 1/8 cup
- Shortening for deep frying
- Natilla (below), or honey
- Natilla (Serves 6)
- Sugar - 2-1/2 cups
- Milk - 4 cups
- Vanilla Extract - 1/4 teaspoon
- Eggs - 8, separated
- Cornstarch - 3 tablespoons, dissolved in 1/4 cup milk
- Ground cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and add the baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir well, then add the oil, evaporated milk, and water. Using your hands, work the mixture into a dough and knead gently on a floured surface. It will remain slightly sticky.
Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes, then divide it into 12 balls by tearing off pieces into nuggets that form balls in your hand.
On a floured surface, roll each ball into a 10-inch circle, 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with all the balls.
Preheat the oven to 150 F. Heat the shortening to 400 F in a deep-fryer or deep heavy saucepan. Cut each circle into quarters and put four pieces at a time in the hot oil. Using a spatula or spoon, fan hot oil over the top of each triangle, which will cause it to start puffing up. After 20 seconds, turn the sopaipillas over and quickly brown the other side. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Keep warm in the preheated oven while repeating the frying process with the remaining balls.
To serve: Serve the sopaipillas immediately with natilla (below) or with honey.
Rancho de Chimayo
This is the Southwestern version of floating island, with airy meringue topping a creamy rich custard.
Place 2 cups of the sugar, milk, vanilla, and egg yolks in the top of a double boiler and whisk well. Place over simmering water, stir in the cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly and beating well to eliminate any lumps. Cook until thickened, 2 to 5 minutes. Strain into a bowl or serving dish and refrigerate until cold.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, increase the speed to high, and beat until the meringue is stiff. Spread on top of the cold pudding and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Serve with sopaipillas (above).