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2013 and earlier

Natilla & Bunuelos - Colombian Christmas Treat

Caroline Maber

By Caroline Maber
Travel Consultants

Buñuelos are little round savory doughnut-style bites made with cheese. Natilla is a delicious desert made with cinnamon and raisins. Both are popular Christmas treats in Colombia, often served together with hot chocolate on Christmas eve.

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 1 hour
  • Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Recipe serves: 24



  • 2 cups grated white farmer's cheese or queso fresco
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1.5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • Vegetable oil for frying


  1. Make sure that the cheese is grated very finely. You can use a food processor for this.
  2. Mix the cheese, corn starch, sugar, salt, and egg in a large bowl until well blended.
  3. Shape the dough into 1 inch diameter balls.
  4. Heat several inches of oil in a heavy pot to 350 degrees.
  5. Add the buñuelos, a few at a time, and cook. They will sink to the bottom, then rise and expand. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they are golden brown and very round.
  6. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels.
  7. Dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.



    • 4 cups whole milk
    • 8 ounces panela, or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup cornstarch
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 cup frozen fresh shredded coconut (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)


    1. Pour the mik into a heavy-bottomed pot. Dissolve the cornstarch in the milk over low heat.
    2. Grate the panela and add to the milk mixture, or add the brown sugar to the milk mixture. Add the baking soda, cinnamon sticks, and salt.
    3. Heat the milk/sugar mixture over low heat, stirring, until it starts to thicken. Add the coconut (optional).
    4. Cook at barely a simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture has thickened. Stir constantly so that the corn starch doesn't clump, and the mixture doesn't burn.
    5. The mixture will get very thick and hard to stir, and turn a medium caramel brown. If you scrape a spatula along the bottom of the pot, you should be able to see the bottom for several seconds before the mixture closes in on itself.
    6. Remove from heat. Take out the cinnamon sticks and stir in the butter and vanilla (and nuts, if desired).
    7. Pour mixture into a greased 8 inch square pyrex pan, or in any greased mold. Let cool.
    8. Cut into 1-2 inch square pieces, sprinkle with cinnamon if desired.

    Serve alongside your Buñuelos a nice Hot Chocolate.

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