Latin cuisine features 11 different kinds of cheeses, many blending European and American influences in a way that's uniquely Hispanic. Add a little guava dipping sauce to some good cheese and you've got a Latin gem.
I love to make this recipe for savory fried cheese balls — bolitas de queso — when I'm throwing a party. The tangy sweetness of the guava pairs nicely with the savory cheese. It's the perfect party fritter, appetizer or finger food. The cheeses — Gouda or Edam work best — may hail from other regions, but the end result is quintessentially Latin American.
- For the cheese balls:
- 1/2 pound Gouda or Edam cheese, shredded
- 1 egg white from a large egg
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Extra flour for dredging
- Vegetable oil for frying
- For the guava dipping sauce:
- 4 ounces guava paste
- 8 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
Prepare the Dough:
- Place the shredded cheese, flour, and egg white into a mixing bowl.
- Knead the ingredients together by hand to form a firm dough.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will firm it so the balls hold together when you form them.
Prepare the Guava Dipping Sauce:
- Combine the guava paste, vinegar and water in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Use a whisk to smooth out the paste into a creamy sauce. This will take a few minutes. Keep whisking or it will burn.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool.
Fry the Dough:
- Break off chunks of the cheese dough and use the palms of your hands to form them into balls of uniform size.
- Heat the oil to 350 F in a deep fryer.
- Lightly dredge the balls in extra flour and shake off the excess. Fry them in the hot oil until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
- Remove the cheese balls from the oil and allow them to drain on paper towels before serving.
- Serve the cheese balls with the guava dipping sauce on the side.
Tips and Variations:
- Although mixing the dough by hand is ideal, you can use a standing mixer to make lighter work of it.
- If you don't have a deep fryer, you can use a large heavy frying pan, ideally cast iron. Use about three inches of oil.
- The temperature of the oil is important. If you don't have a deep fryer with temperature control, use a candy thermometer or a deep-fry thermometer to test the temperature of the oil before you place the cheese balls into it.
- Feel free to add spices of your choice or a little cayenne or red pepper to the cheese balls for an added zing.