When we were traveling the Southwest, my daughter and I got completely and utterly hooked on sopaipillas. They are little pockets of goodness. Feel free to drizzle honey over them when ready to serve. Yum! This version comes from my Sante Fe School of Cooking cookbook.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in the shortening until a coarse meal is formed. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla paste with a fork until the mixture comes together into a moist dough. Form into a ball, knead several times, and cover; let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a deep pot to 375 degrees F. Roll out half the dough to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into squares or triangles. Drop the pieces of dough, one by one,into the hot oil and fry until golden, about 30 to 40 seconds, rolling them over to brown on both sides. Roall and cut remaining dough and fry. Drain on paper towels.
Serve warm with honey or honey butter, if desired.