Gluten-Free Sugarloaf Arepas with Anise (VIDEO)

Gluten-free sugarloaf arepas with anise. Arepas are usually a savory dish, but these sweet treats are sweetened with sugarloaf syrup (papelón, as we call it in Venezuela, or panela in Colombia, piloncillo in México and rapadura in Brazil.) They are sprinkled with anise seeds, which give this morsel its defining flavor. They’re then fried in vegetable oil and eaten with fresh queso blanco.
These sweet arepas are one of the flavors of my childhood in Caracas: my grandma Ligia and my mom used to make them for me. There is no doubt this recipe is one of the treasures of Venezuelan gastronomy. 

Since these arepitas are so addictive, I try to not make them too often to avoid the guilt of indulging my sweet tooth. Of course, splurging once in a while never hurt anyone.
When they are well done, it’s usually said that they look “abombaditas,” or balloon-like; the ones in the video below and the photos are the perfect example. They are best eaten before they deflate or run out—whichever comes first. 

The trick to making them balloon up is to put a little bit of baking soda in the dough and to make the arepas extra-thin. Once cooked, an opening for the cheese is cut into the arepas, and they’re filled with two spoonfuls of queso blanco. You would be hard-pressed to find a more delicious breakfast (or dinner…). 
Like every arepa made with arepa flour Harina P.A.N. made in Texas, these arepas are gluten-free. Since September 15th to October 15th is Hispanic Heritage month here in the U.S., I have the perfect excuse to make these delights more often. I  hope you enjoy this recipe! Watch the video below and thank you for subscribing sto my YouTube channel:
Gluten-free Sugarloaf Arepas with Anise | Ingredients for 12 arepas
For the sugarloaf syrup 
1 ¼ cups of sugarloaf (papelón, panela, piloncillo, rapadura), shredded
1 cup water
1. Put the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and cook on medium heat until the boiling.
2. Boil for 3-5 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat, and let cool completely.

For the arepas
¼ of sugarloaf syrup
1 cup of pre-cooked arepa flour (I used Harina P.A.N.)
2 teaspoons of anise seeds
2 tablespoons of queso blanco, grated (I used Cotija)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of fresh cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon of salt
Abundant vegetable oil for frying
2 cups of white cheese to fill the arepas

1. Put the sugarloaf syrup, baking soda, 2 tablespoons of cheese, anise seeds and salt in bowl.
2. Slowly, add the arepa flour to the bowl, and mix with a fork.
3. Using your hands, knead the dough to make sure there are no lumps and it's smooth and malleable.
4. Let sit for 5 minutes.
5. Pour the oil in a large pot and heat on medium.
6. Using your hands, shape bits of dough into the size of golf balls.
7. To form the arepas, put the a ball of dough in plastic film and cover it. Roll them flat until you have a 2 inch circle. Press on it with a cup.
8. Take away the arepa from the plastic film, and fry it one at a time. The arepas should start to balloon up after about a minute in the oil. Flip them over and fry for another minute until golden brown on both sides.
10. Turn off the heat and put through a strainer on top of absorbent paper towel.
11. Cut a pocket into them, and stuff with fresh queso blanco.
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