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Bunuelos: It's A Holiday Tradition

Koni Ramos Kaiwi making bunuelos.
Koni Ramos Kaiwi making bunuelos.

KERA's Courtney Collins takes us to a kitchen in Garland where Koni Ramo Kaiwi is trying to preserve one of her holiday traditions. Bunuelos have long been on the holiday menu in many Latino homes. Koni wants to make sure her grandchildren can recreate their magic for holidays to come.

Armed with rolling pins and a mission Koni Ramos Kaiwi hands each of her three grandchildren a kitchen tool and a ball of sweet, homemade dough.

She then instructs the children to roll the dough flat and thin, until it's about the size of a tortilla.

Javi, AJ and Anna are happy to help out, because that means they get dibs on sampling the pastry after It's cooked in sizzling oil to a crisp light brown; then rolled in sugar and cinnamon.

Koni remembers helping her own grandmother make bunuelos during the holidays when she was a little girl living in Donna, a South Texas town in the Rio Grande Valley.

The tradition is centuries old. It's believed the dessert was brought to Mexico by Spanish settlers who came to the New World.

Bunuelos are a lot like fritters and a distant cousin to doughnuts and funnel cake.

Sometimes they're filled with custard or topped with fruit, but many families of Mexican heritage use cinnamon and sugar.

Koni will make her most important batch of bunuelos on December 31. That's when many Hispanics believe the sweet, sugary treat will help usher in a kind and pleasant New Year.

Koni: We're not supposed to have these done until midnight. At 9:00 pm on New Year's Eve it's like, "Are we going to make the bunuelos, are we going to make the bunuelos? Is it almost time to make the bunuelos?

So at nine o'clock until about 11:00 when we start making them it's like, "Is it time, is it time, is it time?"

Koni says it wouldn't be the holidays without a house full of people making bunuelos. But she worries many Latin American families in North Texas are giving up the time- consuming tradition.

Koni: In the Latino community, our culture is something we want to instill in our children. You know, we've come to the point where we have really Americanized a lot of our children and we don't keep traditions. We're getting to be a society of rushing and not keeping traditions and keeping our families together and I feel that in the Latino community in order for us to have a good sense of familia. We need to instill that in our children so they can also pass it on to their children.

Ten year-old Anna Ramos knows that one day she, like her grandmother, may be passing on this tradition to her own children.

Ramos: I think it's good to have a tradition because you can carry it on throughout your lifespan. You can actually spread it with your friends and family everywhere.

Koni speaking to her grandchildren: You don't have enough dough. Do I? It has to be a good sized bollita.

Koni says the delicious fried treat and sense of history that comes with it are a big part of the holidays. But she says watching her grandchildren roll out the dough, fight over whose turn it is to sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar, lick their fingers and laugh is the tradition that really fills her heart each New Year's Eve.

Koni: Whatever the New Year brings, we can tackle it because we've done it together, we've seen the New Year come in as a family.

If you want to take a look at our collection of Holiday Traditions contributed by people across North Texas go to You can email your holiday tradition to and tell us how you celebrate the season.