BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Few New Year’s traditions are as sweet as buñuelos.
Recipes for these crispy concoctions transform flour tortillas into a cinnamon-and-sugar-coated discs of delectable deliciousness, served with or without honey–or more traditionally, with a syrup of piloncillo.
The dessert peaks in popularity around New Year’s Eve, but buñuelos are not reserved for any particular holiday.
Year-round, Treviños Flour Tortilla Factory serves cracked pieces of buñuelos in baskets at tables during the breakfast hours in its restaurant at Boca Chica Boulevard and Military Highway in Brownsville.
“I’ve been here for almost four years, [but] they have been doing it for a long time,” said Treviños owner Dean Gutierrez, a retired firefighter who bought the business a few years ago. “It’s been a tradition here for breakfast.”
Orders for New Year’s buñuelos were already coming in earlier this week, he said, noting that people typically buy buñuelos by the piece at the restaurant, where they are in ready supply. After all, Treviño’s makes flour tortillas — and therefore, buñuelos — daily.
“It’s a New Year’s tradition, but we sell it year-round,” Gutierrez said.
The early rush of customers have come to expect a taste of buñuelos, but the restaurant does sell out at times, even before breakfast wraps up.
“We will have a day, like today, where someone might take 10 from the tray we have,” Gutierrez said. “And the person that makes them might not be here anymore. We won’t have any more until the following day. We’ve had people come in and we don’t have any, but that’s just part of business. We won’t sell out every day.”
Around the Valley, buñuelos can be found for sale at panaderias, restaurants, and grocery stores, such as H-E-B. They can be made as standard, flaky discs or beautifully stamped into shapes, like snowflakes and then fried.
Making buñuelos at home
However, the basic recipe is simple, and easy to make at home, where many Valley families have formed memories and traditions around the sweet treat.
Mission resident Vangie Garza prefers homemade buñuelos over any sold at the grocery stores.
“I’m the one that makes them in my family,” Garza said. “I still have this tradition because my mom and my grandma brought me up with it.”
She suggests anyone unfamiliar with buñuelos to find detailed recipes online.
However, Garza sometimes makes little changes to what would otherwise be a recipe found in the “South Texas Mexican Cookbook,” by Lucy Garza, which she bought at the Museum of South Texas in Edinburg. She might add something like cinnamon tea or a touch of orange juice for flavor in the recipe’s mix.
“You get flour, shortening, sugar, and I use either cinnamon tea or a little bit of orange juice, just to give it a little bit of flavor,” Vangie Garza said. “You just combine your dry ingredients, your flour, salt, sugar, and then you put in your shortening and mix that up a bit. Then you add the tea and you make that into a dough and you let it sit for a while.
Then you make little balls and you roll them out in the shapes of tortillas, fry them in vegetable oil, let them dry on paper towels, and then, finally, coat with sugar and cinnamon.
“Nothing tastes like homemade,” Garza said. “You can make them any time you want, but it’s a New Year’s traditional dessert.”