Mix dry ingredients: Mix cornmeal, salt, and sugar, salt. Stir to mix well.
Make the dough: Add the boiling hot water and proceed to mix well right away using a spatula. Add butter to the mix and combine.
Make the bollitos: Let the dough cool enough that you can handle it. Take two tablespoons of the mix and form into dumplings, about ¾" (2 cm) in diameter, squeezing to compress them well. Repeat with the remaining dough. You should obtain around 16.
Cook the bollitos: Heat broth over medium heat until it breaks into a gentle boil. Place the dumplings gently into the broth one by one (careful with splatters!). Do not initially stir or disturb them, once they've been boiling for at least 10 minutes you can stir to make sure they cook evenly.Cook for 1 hour, or until cooked-through (you can cut one in half to check for doneness at the 45-minute mark, cook for an extra 15 mins if needed). Add water as needed to maintain the same level. If you are going to use them for sancocho, skip this step and just add them uncooked to the preparation at the point in which the water in the sancocho starts to boil.
Serve: Serve the bollitos freshly out of the pot, and serve with any of our guisados, some top choices are salami, arenque, pollo, or bacalao (omit the potatoes in that recipe).
Vegan cornmeal dumplings
For a vegan dish use vegetable oil in lieu of butter.
Gluten-free cornmeal dumplings
Cornmeal is naturally gluten-free, but make sure that it is labeled as such because cross-contamination is a concern. A reader in the comments suggested that you can replace all-purpose flour with cornstarch (cornstarch), but this is a substitution I have not tested, and please make sure the cornstarch is also labeled-gluten free as it may also be cross-contaminated during production.
Cornmeal and coconut dumplings
Substitute the ¾ cup of water for coconut milk. This is also a traditional variation of these bollitos, but I would not do this if you'll add it to Sancocho as it will affect the taste of the stew.
What kind of flour do you use in dumplings?
Find as fine cornmeal as you can.
Why do dumplings fall apart when cooked?
If the water is not sufficiently hot the dumplings may break when added to the water. Make sure the water is boiling, and that you lower the dumplings into the water very gently, or lower them with a slotted spoon.
These will generally pick some of the color of the broth, so darker for darker broth, lighter for lighter broth.