These Mexican cookies make a great treat around the holidays when you've got lots of guests. Makes 12 cookies.
- Heat the brown sugar, 2 cups water, cinnamon stick and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The syrup should thicken slightly.
- Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the shortening and gradually add one cup warm water until it is completely absorbed.
- Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth dough. Pat the outside of the ball of dough lightly with shortening.
- Let the dough stand 15 minutes and then knead again. Divide the dough into twelve balls of equal size.
- Pat the balls lightly with shortening and let rest for 20 minutes. Take a ball and place on a lightly floured surface.
- Using a rolling pin or your hands, flatten the ball into a thin round disc. Repeat with the remaining balls.
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Using tongs, fry the discs on both sides in the oil until golden.
- Place the cookies on a plate lined with paper towels to remove extra grease. Serve the bunuelos hot with the syrup drizzled over the top and a light sprinkle of powdered sugar.