Sopaipillas

Squash-Flavored Fried Dough

A Chilean afternoon snack of fried dough, the sopaipilla, is made from squash. This version comes from cookbook The Chilean Kitchen.

On rainy days in Santiago, social media is flooded with talk of sopaipillas pasadas, homemade squash-flavored fried dough in a brown sugar syrup. Many Chileans have childhood memories of rainy days in the kitchen, making the dough, rolling it out, piercing it with a fork, and frying it. In the central region of Chile, where squash is always included (which is not the case in other parts of Chile), rains are infrequent and well-announced, giving home cooks lots of time to prepare the squash before kids come home from school.

The afternoon snack of fried dough in a sweet sauce is just one way of eating sopaipillas. We also like them plain or with powdered sugar, and nowadays many people like them savory, with Pebre/Chilean Salsa Fresca, including before a meal at restaurants. Avocado is another popular topping, and we’ve even heard of people topping them with canned mackerel and onions. Like a few other foods in Chile, this one shares its name with another dish—Tex-Mex sopapilla—but the similarity stops there. And most Chileans wouldn’t guess it, but we inherited the word sopaipilla indirectly from the Arabic, and sopaipillas came to Chile via Spanish colonization. ~Eileen Smith + Pilar Hernandez


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tablespoons lard, shortening, or butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil for frying

PREPARATION

  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. Add the pumpkin and lard. Pulse it until a soft dough forms.
  3. Place the dough on a plate, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Working on a floured surface, roll the dough to ¼-inch thickness.
  5. Cut into 3-inch circles, using a glass or biscuit cutter.
  6. Prick with a fork 3 times each.
  7. Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a deep pot, until it reaches 350ºF.
  8. Working in small batches, 4 to 5 at a time, fry the sopaipillas 2 to 3 minutes each side.
  9. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
  10. Serve hot with the topping of your choice.

Reprinted from The Chilean Kitchen: 75 Seasonal Recipes for Stews, Breads, Salads, and Cocktails, Desserts, and More by Eileen Smith, Pilar Hernandez, and Araceli Paz (2020) with permission from Skyhorse Publishing. Click here to purchase your own copy.

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