These treats that many Americans tend to associate with state fairs and amusement parks actually have a contested history (Don’t you love it when the simplest of food actually has a personality and wants to fight its own corner!)
So let’s discuss the churros history, here is what we know: Churros were brought to the Americas with Spanish and Portuguese sailors at the start of the 16th century. This was the beginning of a marriage made in heaven, as European churros met their match in the drink of the Aztec chocolate, and now this centuries-old treat acquired the perfect dipping sauce.
But how did the churros make it to the Iberian Peninsula? Some say that Portuguese sailors brought the tradition of frying pastry dough from their travels in China; but that doesn’t seem possible, as a similar recipe can be found in Apicius, a collection of 1st-century CE Roman recipes, long before Portuguese sailors made their way to China. Others say that churros were an invention of convenience by Spanish shepherds looking for an easy and quick snack they could make fresh while looking after their flocks.
The truth is that all cultures have a version of fried dough. What makes the churros unique is the ridges, formed by pressing the dough through a star-shaped nozzle. The ridges allow the dough as its fries to have a multitude of crispy edges, while the dough stays creamy nearly custody on the inside.
Rather than combine the churros with the traditional chocolate sauce (though I have included a recipe for it) I like combining mine with Silan (date syrup/honey) or maple syrup. I love the hints of breakfast that maple syrup brings, and the Middle Eastern vibe of the silan — and seeing as the churros have traveled quite a distance, why not take them to the Middle East!
- 470ml (2 cups) water
- 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter (or vegan alternative)
- 25g (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 280g (2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 2 large eggs
- Oil for deep frying
- 100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Chocolate Sauce:
- 180ml (¾ cup) double (heavy) cream (or vegan alternative)
- 110g (4 ounces) plain (dark) chocolate, broken up into small pieces
- Pinch salt
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, prepare your piping bag with a closed star tip, and have all your ingredients and equipment ready to go.
- In a medium-large saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add vanilla, salt and flour all at once and stir with rubber spatula until well combined, with no streaks of flour remaining.
- Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until cooled slightly, about 1 minute. With the mixer running (still on low) add eggs, increase speed to medium and beat until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
- Transfer warm dough to a prepared piping bag fitted with a closed star tip. Pipe out lengths of dough anywhere between 8-15cm (3-6 inches) onto a prepared baking tray sheet, using scissors or a knife to snip dough at end. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Heat oil in either a large pot or a deep-fat fryer, at least 5cm (2 inches) deep. Heat the oil to 180℃ (350℉) (use a thermometer to keep a close eye on the temperature).
- Line a large plate with paper towels, and have a slotted spoon ready to fish out the churros. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a large shallow dish. Once your oil comes to temperature, you are ready to fry!
- Gently drop a few churros into hot oil and fry until dark golden brown on all sides, about 5-6 minutes, turning frequently for even cooking.
- Transfer churros to a paper towel–lined plate for 30 seconds to drain off excess oil. Roll churros in cinnamon sugar, tapping gently to remove excess. Transfer churros to a serving plate and serve alongside a selection of dipping sauces.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE:
- Place cream (or vegan alternative), broken up chocolate, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the mixture in 20-second blasts, stirring between each blast, until all the chocolate has melted and the sauce is smooth and silky.