These crisp-fried turnovers, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, are sold as sweet treats throughout the market the way funnel cakes are at fairgrounds.
- 1 2''-long cinnamon stick, preferably canela (true cinnamon)
- 1 cup short-grain rice
- 2 cups milk
- ¾ cups sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, preferably canela
- 9 6'' flour tortillas
- Vegetable oil
Put the cinnamon stick and 2 cups water in a medium heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in rice, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover and remove and discard cinnamon stick.
Add milk, ½ cup of the sugar, and salt and mix well. Increase heat to medium. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring frequently, until very thick (pudding should hold its shape firmly in a spoon), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
Combine remaining ¼ cup sugar with ground cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Measure a scant ½ cup pudding into center of each tortilla, then fold tortilla in half, pressing gently to close edges. The sticky rice filling acts as a glue to keep the empanadas closed.
Add enough oil to come to a depth of ½'' up the side of a large cast-iron skillet. Heat oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches, fry empanadas until crispy and deep golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. While empanadas are still warm, generously sprinkle both sides of each one with cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.