Puerto Ricans, stemming from our African roots, love fried foods. When I was growing up, my grandmother served these corn and cheese sticks frequently as an appetizer or alongside dinner. She would make a batch in advance and store them in the freezer. When hunger would strike, she would simply fry them up from frozen. We'd eat them hot, dipping them in mayo ketchup (a Puerto Rican dipping sauce similar to Thousand Island dressing). I like to stuff my sorullitos with Gouda and serve them with a mayo ketchup sauce seasoned with adobo spice mix or garlic powder (see Cook’s Note). The sticks make an excellent platter to whip up for guests.
Heat the sugar, salt and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve and the water begins to boil. Mix in the cornmeal, stirring constantly with a sturdy rubber spatula until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute. Turn off the burner and add the butter and 1/2 cup of the Gouda. Continue stirring until the cheese and butter melt and a cohesive mass of dough forms, about 3 minutes. The mixture should be somewhat resistant to mixing, gummy and malleable, but not sticky. Let the corn and cheese dough cool down for about 3 minutes.
When the dough is cool enough to handle, form 2 tablespoons of dough into a 2-by-3-inch rectangle. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the remaining Gouda to the center of the rectangle and roll into a small 3-inch cigar-shaped stick. Repeat the process. The recipe should yield about 25 corn sticks.
If frying right away, heat about 1 inch oil in a small to medium heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer or it bubbles when it comes in contact with a wooden spoon.
Fry the sorullitos until golden all around and the cheese is melted on the inside, about 5 minutes. Drain the sorullitos on paper towels. They are best served right away.
To make ahead to fry at a later time, line a baking sheet that is small enough to fit in your freezer with wax paper. Lay the sorullitos in a single layer without touching on the prepared baking sheet. Freeze until hard, then transfer to freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to 2 months.
If cooking the sorullitos from frozen, there is no need to thaw them out before frying. Heat the oil following the above instructions and fry the frozen sorullitos until golden brown and the cheese is melted on the inside, about 6 minutes.
To serve with mayo ketchup dipping sauce, whip up equal parts mayonnaise and ketchup in a small bowl. Season the mixture with a bit of adobo spice mix or salt and garlic powder to taste.
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