Sweet Arepas with Anise recipe by Irena Stein

Arepa dulce con anís

This recipe is extracted from Arepa by Irena Stein with recipes by Eduardo Egui, published by Ryland Peters & Small (£20) Photography © Irena Stein

Ingredients for Sweet Arepas with Anise

For the sugar cane syrup (melao)

  • 240 ml water
  • 175 g unrefined raw cane sugar (such as papelón, panela or piloncillo)

How to make Sweet Arepas with Anise

  1. To make the sugar cane syrup, heat the water and sugar together in a pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture turns into a thin syrup. The syrup will thicken further as it cools, so remove the pan from the heat while the syrup still looks relatively thin (just as you would when making jam).
  2. To make the dough, combine the water, sugar cane syrup, anise seeds, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the pre-cooked maize flour (cornmeal) with one hand, while simultaneously kneading the mixture with your other hand. Once mixed, the dough should be smooth. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Knead the dough and shape into balls. Cover each ball of dough with clingfilm or parchment paper, then flatten each one out with a rolling pin into a very thin disc, almost like a tortilla but not quite as thin.
  4. To cook the arepas, pour enough oil to cover the arepas into a large, heavy-based pan, making sure it is no more than two-thirds full. Heat the oil to 190°C (375°F). Do not exceed this temperature as the arepas may burn.
  5. Working in batches, carefully lower the arepas into the oil avoiding any splashes. Deep-fry for 4–5 minutes, or until the arepas bulge and turn crispy. Remove the arepas from the pan with a slotted spoon and place them on a baking tray lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  6. Serve the arepas while still hot.
  7. Note: Sweet arepas are not generally enjoyed as a dessert. Instead, they are eaten for breakfast with cheese as a contrast to their sweet favour.
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