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Churros 'n' Chocolate

Nothing beats some fried dough dipped in chocolate, right?

Since moving to the Raleigh area last summer, we haven't yet found our favorite dine-out haunts, much less preferred places for certain cuisines. Maybe when food inflation hits the ceiling and it becomes more affordable for a family of four to eat out? Whenever that may be...

Desserts I'm not that knowledgeable of making are must-ordered items when we eat out, because let's face it... This Mama Chef knows how to bake a cake and put together a pie. But fried food in general (and properly) is not really my forte. My family has been pining for churros lately--that sweet little crispy-on-the-outside-but-soft-and-fluffy-on-the-inside doughnut-like specialty you should always dunk into a rich, delectable fudge sauce. Living in the Chicago area, we were never more than a 5-minute drive to some of the best Mexican in the country, where churros were almost always on the menu.


What's very interesting about them though, is that they did not originate as a Mexican delicacy. The blog Salt, Wind & Travel gives a good rundown on the dessert's history, and lo and behold, they are actually from Spain! And have roots in Chinese pastry! What the FUDGE?! It seems Spanish shepherds first made it mainstream by frying dough in place of bread, which of course could not be baked while out in the elements with the livestock. Churros arrived in the Americas with the Spanish Inquisition, but then in a return volley, the Spaniards returned home with the chocolate they discovered in South America and voilà! We arrived at the impenetrable duo of chocolate and churros! Food is just so fabulously global, isn't it? And what's particularly curious about churros and Chicago is that they could easily be found on menus in Mexican establishments but NOT at tapas places. Things that make you go hmm... Or rather, Mmm-Mmm! If there ever was a tome I could trust to include the best churros recipe on the planet, it would be Amanda Hesser's Essential New York Times Cookbook. Typically, you need a subscription to The NYT Cooking site to access recipes (or purchase the book, as I have), but I'm willing to share the churros recipe here, if only briefly, before the paper finds out I did and makes me take it down! So hurry up and read this blog entry and print it out, because it's worth the risk!

This dough came together perfectly, and if you have a cooking thermometer that can keep

your oil at 350° throughout frying, then you're golden. Just like your churros will be! I served this with Spoonfoolery's Fudgin' Awesome Chocolate Sauce, soon to return to our online store for purchase. But the recipe does come with one that will more than suffice.


I hope you find some time this long holiday weekend to whip up these scrumptious little wonders. You'll dream of starting up a churros cart you can take around the neighborhood or to your kiddo's next game. (At least I am!)

Churros With Chocolate Sauce Sauce 1 cup heavy cream

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)

Churros

1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) ground cinnamon

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

8 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying (I used vegetable oil, and they came out fine)


Make the chocolate sauce: Heat cream in a small saucepan until small bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Add butter and bourbon and mix well. Cover and keep warm or at room temperature and reheat when serving. Makes about 1 1/4 cups sauce.


Make the churros: Combine cinnamon and sugar in a shallow dish and set aside. Prepare a large pastry bag with a wide star tip and set up in a large deli container or drinking glass. Set aside. Melt butter with milk and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until the dough forms a ball and starts pulling away from the sides of the pan (about 30 seconds). Remove from heat and cool for 3 minutes, then stir in the eggs. Mix until smooth. Fill the pastry bag with batter and keep propped up in glass or deli container. Line a dinner plate with a couple sheets of paper towels. Set near stove. Heat about 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a medium pot. Holding the pastry bag a few inches above the oil, squeeze out about 4 inches of the batter and snip it with a kitchen shears to release into the oil. Fry in batches, turning once, until golden brown, 4 minutes total. Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove and drain on plate. While frying next batch, roll drained, hot churros in cinnamon sugar and place on clean plate. Serve warm with warm chocolate sauce. Can be made ahead and kept warm, but serving right away is best (and most delicious!). Makes about a dozen churros. (Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, by Amanda Hesser.)




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