If you’re ever in Santiago, please do yourself an amazing favor and take the food and market tour from Larisa. She an incredible guide who managed to introduce us to new flavors and foods even after we had spent a month in Santiago. She also provided the traditional sopaipillas recipe (and pebre recipe) that I used as a foundation to play around with when creating this one!
When we were in Santiago for the first time, I fell in love with the Chilean pumpkin sopaipillas by coincidence; we were walking through a park on a cold, windy evening and I couldn’t resist the warmth of freshly fried street food. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much of the oddly orange fried dough (at the time, I had no idea what it was!), but it turned out to be delicious.
On our return trip to Chile, learning a sopaipillas recipe was one of my priorities. (Of course, we had to eat as many as possible, too!)
Traditionally, Chilean sopaipillas’ main ingredients are just flour and pumpkin. (We learned that the orange color of many sopaipillas now comes from dye, but traditionally—and in this recipe—it’s from pumpkin.) Of course I can’t leave anything alone, and I decided to stuff mine with gooey, melty cheese.
For a more traditional sopaipilla experience, don’t roll the sopaipillas as thin, and just fry the entire circle.
Toppings include various sweet, spicy, and/or savory options, so feel free to experiment! For these sopaipillas, I made something resembling Chilean pebre. My recipe is below, but honestly these go well with almost any sauce you can think of. (Next time, I’ll make them with a creamy garlic confit sauce!)
While boiling or steaming the pumpkin seems to be the more traditional method of cooking it, I prefer to roast it to bring out more of its sweet flavors. My recipe then adds some of that lost water back in later. If you boil your pumpkin instead, you may find you need to adjust the water or flour quantities to make up for the wetter pumpkin.
- 2 cups peeled and cubed pumpkin (note: use a variety for eating rather then the ones grown for carving, as carving pumpkins are less flavorfull)
- olive oil
- ¼ cup warm water (adjust as needed)
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella (shredded by you, NOT the stuff in a bag-that won't melt as well!)
- 1 cup chèvre (goat cheese)
- plenty of oil for deep frying
Preheat the oven and roast the pumpkin:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Toss the pumpkin cubes with enough olive oil to generously coat them, along with a pinch of salt.
- Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until very tender, about 30-35 minutes.
Prepare the dough:
- Blend the pumpkin with about 1/4 cup of warm water. (Use as little as necessary to blend the pumpkin.) Measure out 1 cup of blended pumpkin.
- Mix together the 2 cups of flour with 1 teaspoon of salt and the 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Add the 1 cup of pumpkin puree and the 2 tablespoons of room-temperature butter, and mix well.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if necessary until the dough isn’t very sticky (For me, this took about 1/4 cup more flour; it might vary for you based on the type of flour you’re using, how wet your pumpkin is, and similar factors.)
- Continue kneading the dough for a couple minutes until it’s smooth and silky, then set it aside and cover. Allow the dough to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Roll out the dough, cut it, and stuff the sopaipillas:
- Pull off a manageable portion of the dough, and roll out on a lightly floured surface until very thin—it should be thin enough to be translucent. The dough will be stubborn and try to pull back at first, but eventually it will allow itself to be rolled out thin.
- Cut the dough into 4” or 10cm circles. You’ll need two for each stuffed sopaipilla. Arrange them in a single layer on a lightly floured surface.
- Arrange 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella onto one of the dough rounds, topped with 1 tablespoon of chèvre. Leave a 1/2” to 3/4” (1.25 to 2 cm) rim around the outside without cheese on it.
- Get your fingertips damp and moisten the clean rim of the cheese-topped dough round. Lay another dough round on top of it and seal the edges, gently squeezing out as much air as possible as you go.
- Repeat for each sopaipilla. (I recommend making them all at once and setting them aside on a lightly floured surface while you finish, so you can fry them more quickly.)
Fry the sopaipillas:
- Heat enough oil for deep-frying (quantity varies depending on what pot or deep-fryer you’re using) to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius.
- Place several of the stuffed sopaipillas into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pot, but you can fry as many as can comfortably fit at a time.
- Fry until golden-brown on both sides, flipping once halfway through. Drain on a paper towel and serve!
- The rolled dough should be thicker, about 1/4” or .75cm thick.
- Don’t stick two dough circles together; just roll it out, cut it, and fry it.
- Before frying, puncture each circle several times with a fork. (Doing this with stuffed sopaipillas would let the cheese leak out, so only do it if you’re not stuffing them.)
Remember that you can serve these sopaipillas with just about any sauce you can imagine! The one I made for this batch is below in case you want to give it a try.
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- fresh chili to taste
- Remove and discard the cores and seeds from the tomatoes. Small dice the tomatoes until you have about 2 cups.
- Finely dice the yellow onion until you have about 1/2 cup.
- Very finely mince the 2 garlic cloves and fresh chili to taste.
- Mix together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chili with salt to taste and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Serve on the fresh sopaipillas.
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