Let’s talk churros, shall we?
I’m not ashamed to admit, I never got the hype… Then again, I’d never really had a churro before. I knew what constituted a churro. Fried choux pastry, rolled in cinnamon sugar, dipped in chocolate… what’s not to love? I’d had similar fried pastries in the past, such as funnel cakes and doughnuts, after all, I grew up in central south Missouri. Sadly, I was never inspired to go out and find Kansas City’s best churro. Making them seemed doubly baffling. I live in a tiny apartment with a galley kitchenette, so the thought of partially deep-frying anything in oil had me terrified beyond submission. Until today…
Did you know that churros are deceptively easy to make? Seriously. I was perusing the inter-tubes looking for a weekend project, when I found multiple churro recipes. Curiosity got the best of me. After thirty minutes of being seduced by gorgeous photos and rave reviews, I made up my mind to tackle these mystical fried pastries myself. Who cares that I don’t have a churrera, or had never deep-fried anything in oil before. I’ve improvised in the past, and was confident I could do it again.
I found quite a few choux dough recipes online, and cobbled my favorite elements to make the perfect flavor of cake-like doughnut dough. My personal spin on the recipe below is adding a bit of lemon zest… I know, not that crazy. Try it with or without, but I guarantee you’ll really like the oomph it gives to anything you’re making. The zing of citrus mixed with the mellow sweetness of the dough is a pleasant and welcome surprise.
To make the dough:
- 1 1/2 -1 3/4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon zest
- 2 cups of cake flour
- 2 large eggs (Go for the jumbo… the batter holds up well when dropped into the oil.
- 1 to 2 cups vegetable oil
For the coating, set aside:
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Set aside a large glass bowl with the flour in the bottom next to the stove. Put the water, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally so it all mixes together, and once the butter has completely melted, pour it right into your bowl of flour slowly until you have all the liquid in the bowl. I say slowly, because liquid and flour poured over each other too quickly result in a crazy mess. Stir vigorously with a spatula until all the clumpy bits of flour are gone and you have a smooth batter.
Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. If you add the eggs while it’s still too warm, the heat might pre-cook the egg a bit and the frying will not produce the results you need. You can take this time to grate your fresh lemon zest. After the mixture has cooled enough, add in your lemon zest, and each egg one at a time, while mixing with a hand mixer until smooth again. Once it’s all mixed, scoop into a pastry bag, fitted with a large closed star tip. I only had a small tip, so I settled on doing tiny bite-sized churros.
Add oil to Dutch oven or deep walled skillet until it measures about 1 1/2 inches deep and heat over medium/medium-high heat.* It will look like cold oil, really, so the best way to test the heat, was to drop in extra coin sized clumps of batter in and see what happens. Once it’s warmed enough to bubble around the entire surface of the batter you drop in, you’re ready to start. Holding the tip of the pastry bag about 5-7″ above the surface of the oil, begin piping out strips right into the oil at your desired length a few at a time. Take care not to pipe in too many… they will not fry up as quickly and you risk overcooking the centers. Using tongs, you can roll the around so they brown evenly along all sides, pulling them out and placing directly onto a plate covered with paper towels to help absorb the extra oil. When pulling them out, try to let as much of the excess oil drip back into the pot. If ANY drips onto the heating elements, you’re going to scare the bejeezus out of yourself with fire.
* There is a lot of information that calls for a specific temperature, mostly over 350°. I found as long as it began bubbling around the entire surface of the dough dropped in, I was able to achieve great results.
Once all are fried, combine cinnamon and sugar in a plate and mix to coat your churros in. I used my crème brûlée ramekin which is perfectly sized and has a lip to prevent spillage. Roll your churros, one by one, spooning more cinnamon-sugar on as you do for best coverage. I laid a set of paper towels under a cooling rack to catch-all the sugar and began moving them there once they were done.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup bakers bittersweet chocolate chips
- A pinch salt
So if you have a strong will-power and can stop yourself (or your spouse) from eating them before you make the dipping sauce, then I should hire you to monitor us in the kitchen. Ours didn’t make it nearly that long, and they were devoured before I could even consider getting to the sauce.
Feel free to place the remaining churros on a baking sheet in the oven on the lowest temperature to keep them warm while you make the chocolate sauce. A warm churro is ideal, but I find them cold to be equally as delicious. Heat cream, chocolate and salt in a bowl in a saucepan over low-medium/medium heat whisking slowly until chocolate has melted. Pour into a bowl and immediately begin dipping warm churros in warm chocolate sauce. Repeat. Enjoy.