Last November, as holiday treat sales began to ramp up, Cynthia Rodriguez-Stahl's sister-in-law challenged her to make her own buñuelos. Several hundred shares on Facebook, and 200 dozen buñuelos made through the holiday season, a small business was born.
For Rodriguez-Stahl, making the buñuelos was not a problem. The trained chef graduated as one of the first classes to come out of the Culinary Institute of America-San Antonio and went on to work in several production kitchens including the CIA-SA and Central Market simultaneously. Nowadays, you'll find the raspy-voiced Rodriguez-Stahl at Larder where she serves as culinary supervisor, and zipping around town in her small SUV dropping off bundles of sugar-dusted joy as the face of the San Antonio Buñuelo Company
The buñuelos aren't the flattened and fried discs of dough covered in cinnamon and sugar most are familiar with, though she certainly doesn't disparage the originals.
"My great-grandmother used to make them," Rodriguez-Stahl says. "My mom says she'd pull and stretch them over her knee."
Clearly, a passion for buñuelos runs in the family.
Her grandmother would be the one to wise up and modify the recipe after finding a rosette iron used in making Scandinavian cookies, or similarly Bimbuñuelos
from Mexico. Since then, the iron has been passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter and even Rodriguez-Stahl's own progeny Carissa also gets in on the action when she's not studying at the CIA. The rosette iron has given way to the stars and butterflies as Rodriguez-Stahl tries finding these vintage irons across the web.
And though the temperatures keep climbing, Rodriguez-Stahl is growing the business. The product is great — the buñuelos are light and crisp, not overly sweet. Imagine topping ice cream with one, or adding it to your morning yogurt if you're feeling indulgent. At $9.50 per dozen, it's a relatively affordable treat with an uniquely SA twist.
She reached out to Instagram influencers with freebies to help spread the word and it's paid off so far with buñuelos making appearances in weddings this summer. El Paso residents Robbie Carrizales and Miguel Torres, noticed the Insta love and worked with Rodriguez-Stahl on customizing glittered navy, coral and gold buñuelos.
"We stumbled across a vibrant picture of buñuelos. We loved the originality on this traditional dessert and thought these were the perfect twist we were looking for our upcoming wedding," they said.
She's contacted other business owners to offer the buñuelos. Kuma, San Antonio's first ice cream shop dedicatedly solely to Hong Kong waffle ice cream concoctions, offers the buñuelos as toppings.
The buñuelos are available in regular and different colors. For Fourth of July, expect to see red, white and blue stars at picnics. Orders have closed for the holiday, as Rodriguez-Stahl and co. work on keeping up with demand. Husband Arthur Stahl helps with logistics to make sure Rodriguez-Stahl's drop off locations won't eat up valuable production time, while Carissa helps fry, box and label.
"I want these to be the new crackers," Rodriguez-Stahl said. "They work as both savory and sweet, and you can fill them. They're mobile. They fit people's lifestyles."
Orders for buñuelos can be made at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 835-5137.