This recipe is a favorite throughout South America, Central America, and Mexico. Some regions serve these as dessert and (depending on regional preference) sprinkled with cinnamon/sugar or drizzled with honey. We had them as dessert recently at a Mexican restaurant, and they were dusted with sugar and topped with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a touch of strawberry sauce drizzled over the whipped cream. It was super delicious!
Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla, shortening and water to make a soft dough. Add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, if the dough feels too dry. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or until firm (which makes it easier to roll and cut.
Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half, and roll (with a floured rolling pin) each piece of dough into a circle at 1/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough into triangles (as you would slice a pie). You should have 6 or 8 triangles per circle.
Heat 2-inches of oil to 350° in a heavy skillet or deep saucepan over medium-high heat. (Increase temperature to 375° if you prefer a crispier sopapillas.)
Fry a few of the sopapillas at a time, making sure to maintain the oil temperature. When the sopapillas puff up and float to the surface, turn them over to fry the other side, about 2 minutes each side. Carefully remove the sopapillas from the oil and drain on double layer of paper towels, and let cool slightly.
Serve warm, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar or honey on top.
Serving Option: If desired, let sopapillas cool, then pipe whipped cream in the center of each sopapilla triangle, and use a spoon to drizzle a bit of strawberry sauce over the whipped cream.