Inexpensive to make and easy to prepare, pastelitos are little pastry-wrapped pockets of sweet or savory filling that fry to golden brown in less than five minutes. Although you could eat pastelitos every day and never have the same filling, the pastry containing it will have one thing in common -- butter. You can liken authentic pastelito dough to a cross between a puff pastry and a croissant, a rich dough that provides lift and flakiness with the steam released by butter during cooking. A heavy pan, high-temperature oil and about five minutes are all you need to fry pastelitos.
Things You'll Need
Neutral frying oil, such as canola or soybean
Offset metal spatula or slotted high-heat spoon
Dust a plate or the work surface with a scant amount of flour and place the pastelitos on it. The flour will help them slide off the spatula and into the oil.
Pour 3 or 4 inches of neutral frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Refined soybean and canola oil are good choices because they have a neutral taste, color and smell. Use a pan with straight sides at least 6 to 8 inches tall to prevent splattering.
Set the pan of oil on the stove on a large burner and set the heat to medium. Check the temperature after about 5 minutes with an instant-read thermometer. Adjust the heat as required to keep the oil temperature between 350 and 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place a pastelito on an offset metal spatula and hold it just above the hot oil. Gently push the pastelito off the spatula and into the oil. If you don't have a metal offset spatula, place the pastelito on a slotted spoon and lower it into the oil.
Add the other pastelitos to the oil. Only fry 3 or 4 pastelitos at a time so you can turn them over in the oil freely.
Fry the pastelitos for about 2 minutes then turn them over in the oil with a spoon. They start floating on the oil after about 1 minute of frying.
Fry the pastelitos another 2 minutes and lift them from the oil one at a time with a slotted spoon. Let the oil drain over the pot for a few seconds and place the pastelitos on a waiting plate lined with paper towels.
Blot the top of the pastries with a paper towel and serve immediately.
Frozen prepared pastelitos aren't common, but they are available. If you are frying frozen pastelitos, add 5 minutes to the cooking time and check for an internal temperature of 165 F.
If your pastelitos have a ground-meat filling and you want to check for an internal temperature of 165 F, insert an instant-read thermometer in the center of one horizontally.
Always cook meat filling to 165 F and let it cool before you fill the pastelitos with it.