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Hojuelas are a fried pastry revered by Colombians and other Latin cultures, particularly at Christmas time. These thin and crispy strips of dough are straightforward concoctions of egg, flour, sugar, milk and salt. After a deep frying, they are often drizzled in a simple syrup of butter, brown sugar, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, then dusted in a fine coating of powdered sugar.
It is imperative for the dough of hojuelas to be rolled out thinly. Otherwise, the final product will not have the proper consistency. One recipe calls for a standard sweet dough of two eggs for every 1 cup (about 125 g) of flour. First, the eggs are whisked with 1 tsp (about 5 g) of sugar and a touch of salt, then about 0.5 cup (about 118 ml) of milk is stirred into the mix. Once blended, a mound of flour is dented in the middle, and the mixture can be poured in and kneaded through.
After a firm ball of dough is formed, many chefs will let it rest for at least 10 minutes before rolling it out with a rolling pin. During this time, the syrup can take shape on the stove. It starts with melting butter over medium heat, to which brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon are added until it sticks firmly to a spoon. After this mix is syrupy, it gets removed from the stove to cool a little.
The final steps of making hojuelas entails rolling out the dough extremely thin and cutting out strips about as long and wide as two fingers. Some will cut them into triangles; others prefer thin rectangles. The size is not as important as the heat of the oil, which should be at least 350°F (about 177°C), but no hotter than 400°F (about 205°C).
Once browned, the hojuelas are placed on a paper towel to sop up extra oil. The strips should be crispy, with a slightly bubbled consistency. On the plate, they can be doused in the syrup and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
A plate of hojuelas often are served along with other traditional Colombian holiday desserts. Treats that shadow even hojuelas in popularity are fritters known as buñuelos, which are like cake doughnut holes or hushpuppies. Another favorite is a vanilla coconut custard called natilla, which is made of cow's, coconut and condensed milk, with some grated coconut, cornstarch, vanilla extract, butter, sugar and salt.
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