I’ve tasted a fair number of churros that were crunchy on the outside but fairly hollow and oily on the inside. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn’t it? Churros should be crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside. In the very rare occasions that I do get to eat churros, I like the giant ones filled with Bavarian cream. The traditional churros are normally dipped in hot chocolate though, and today I’ll be sharing two different churros recipes of this kind. I enjoy doing face-offs, and I fervently hope they are useful in helping you decide which recipe to make among the smorgasbord found online.
Since churros are typically eaten for breakfast in Espana, I had planned to wake up early in time to cook these for breakfast. Both times I failed miserably. (And I call myself a morning person… Ha!) For the first recipe I didn’t wake up early enough to catch my siblings before they went off to school at 7. I couldn’t wake up at 5 because sleep is such a wonderful thing. The second time, I was a bit more successful because I fell asleep really early the night before. Take note that churros are best served and eaten freshly cooked and a bit hot, so pick your cooking time wisely. Well, on to the recipe then!
The first recipe is called ‘Classic Churros con Chocolate Caliente’. Despite the Spanish name it’s probably not going to be the same Churros con [Spanish word for “with”] Chocolate Caliente as the authentic one, but it’s a good alternative to tide you over until you get a chance to actually visit Spain and indulge in the real deal. Embracing my fascination for anything Spanish (which is the cause for my desire to speak the Spanish language fluently), it doesn’t really come as a shock to me that I like churros despite my aversion to deep-fried foods and doughnuts (since technically, churros are Spanish doughnuts).
According to some commenters on AllRecipes.com, where I got this recipe, this is the closest to the authentic kind of churros. And because I haven’t tasted authentic ones, we’ll just have to take their word for it, no?
The only problem I had with this recipe was how much effort I needed just to squeeze out the dough. Add to that the hot dough and the heat from the deep-frying oil, and my disposable piping bags popped open about 4 times. But I just kept putting a new one on top of the broken one and went on. It makes for some pretty good early-morning arm exercises. Just be careful about the cooked dough because it really is a bit hot to handle. It’s best to let it cool for a few minutes before putting it in the pastry bag. Also, if you’re thinking about piping it over the hot oil, it’s probably better if you squeeze out a long strip of dough over a plate first and then gently ease it into the oil and cut it off. Since the dough is pretty thick, it comes out beautifully and won’t fall off your tip on its own.
Piping it out of my star-shaped piping tip made it look really pretty. And because I’m all for the looks as well as the taste, I didn’t complain despite being tired afterwards. It is well worth the effort, I can assure you.
If you’re like me and you have a very high sensitivity to sweets (which means some things that are just regularly sweet to others can be a tad bit too sweet for our taste), I wouldn’t recommend eating the churros with cinnamon sugar plus the chocolate dip. You could probably take half the churros and coat it with cinnamon sugar, and the other half plain, for dipping. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with having the best of both worlds.
Although admittedly, this recipe does not get the gold medal for nutrition, the churros themselves were a treat to eat! I had to stop myself from picking it off the plate freshly-cooked. There’s just something about the gorgeousness of the churros shape that draws my fingers to the plate. My family really loved them too. The experience of eating it- firm and crispy on the outside and wonderfully chewy on the inside- was muy fantástico, with the chocolate and cinnamon sugar adding flavour.
Classic Churros con Chocolate Caliente
adapted from AllRecipes.com | Makes about 20 2 ½-inch sticks
For the dough:
1 cup water, room temperature
2 ½ tablespoons white sugar [you can use as less as 1 tablespoon though]
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
oil for deep frying
½ cup caster sugar [I only used about 4-5 tablespoons]
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the chocolate dip:*
125 millilitres full-cream milk
50 grams chocolate, chopped [I used bittersweet chocolate without adding any more sugar]
½ cup sugar, optional [if using milk chocolate, you can omit this entirely]
1. For the churros: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, salt and vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour until mixture forms into a ball of very thick, hot paste. [Put some muscle into it!] Set the mixture aside to cool.
2. In the meantime, heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375°F (190°C) or high heat.
3. When the dough mixture is cool enough to be handled, transfer it into your piping bag.
4. Pipe strips of dough into the hot oil (or pipe them on a plate first before using a metal spatula to gently drop them into the oil), using kitchen scissors to cut the dough off the tip. Fry until golden. It doesn’t have to be a dark golden color because the churros will darken a bit more as they cool. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to pick up churros from the oil and drain on paper towels.**
4. To coat with cinnamon sugar: Combine sugar and cinnamon in a container or brown paper bag. [I like to pat dry my churros first to make sure the oil doesn’t make the cinnamon sugar clump together. The coating is more even this way.] Shake around drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture.
5. To make the chocolate dip: Put chopped chocolate and milk together in a saucepan and stir over medium heat.
6. Once the chocolate is melted and combined with milk, add in the cornstarch.
7. Mix until all the cornstarch is dissolved and the chocolate is thickened.***
8. Taste the chocolate for sweetness and add sugar if necessary. As soon as you see the mixture thicken, remove the pan from the heat so the cornstarch will not thin. Ladle immediately into cups and serve piping hot.
*The original recipe makes quite a lot of chocolate dip– by my standards, enough for two recipes. So I modified the recipe and halved the amount from the original. But if you have plans to smother your churros with chocolate in every bite, then just double the amount I’ve indicated. I also modified the way the chocolate dip is made since this way works better for me.
**You can lower the heat to medium if you feel like your churros are cooking too fast. Some commenters from AllRecipes.com complained that the outside of their churros browned too fast while the insides were undercooked. I didn’t have this problem though. Also try not to cook too many at once, as the oil loses its strength and it takes a longer time the more churros you try to cook at once.
***If chocolate isn’t thick enough for you, continue adding about a quarter teaspoon of cornstarch at a time, dissolving it, until you are satisfied with the consistency of the dip.
The outcome of this second recipe is the complete opposite of the churros recipe above. These are the soft and a bit airy to the bite kinds. Some people would probably prefer this type of churros- for instance my baby brother who likes eating softer things- but for me I really like churros I can sink my teeth into and this was not it.
For one thing, the presence of the water and the milk makes the dough so soft that the effort in squeezing is minimal. Just holding the bag makes the dough come pouring out. I had a fairly difficult time trying to control the flow of the dough into the oil so I ended up with S-shaped churros. However, I found that the dough also did not hold the shape of my piping tip prominently, so the churros don’t look as gorgeous as the ones produced by the previous recipe. Maybe using less eggs would make them less runny as well.
Also, this recipe requires you to flip the churros sticks over while cooking because they float above oil level. In contrast, the first churros recipe gives you no problems as it pretty much stays submerged in the oil and only rises when cooked, making it easier to cook evenly (you can compare the pictures of the churros from both recipes in frying action).
This second recipe makes the churros puff up quite a bit, leaving holes of air in the churros when you bite in. It also feels a rather soggy and soft to hold. Sometimes it would fall apart if you hold the bigger pieces for too long, so it may be best to pipe it in shorter lengths. However, there are a lot of churros-sellers in my country that sell their churros with this kind of texture and softness. So it really still boils down to personal preference in the end.
Cinnamon Churros with Real Hot Chocolate
adapted from Ellie of Almost Bourdain| Makes about 20 2 ½-inch sticks
For the dough:
¾ cups all-purpose flour
150 mL full-cream milk
150 mL water
2 medium eggs, beaten
Oil for deep-frying
1/8 to ¼ cup caster sugar
¾ teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the dip:
225 grams plain chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
200 mL full-cream milk
1. For the churros: Sift the flour and set to one side. Bring the milk and water to the boil in a pan, take the pan off the heat and add the flour all at once, beating vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a thick but lumpy paste.
2. Leave the mixture to cool slightly. Heat some oil for deep-frying (about 375°F/190°C, or high).
3. After a few minutes, when mixture is still warm but tolerable to touch, gradually beat in the eggs to make a smoother but still lumpy and glossy mixture. It should be stiff enough that it drops reluctantly off the wooden spoon.
3. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
4. Hold the bag over the hot oil and gently squeeze out a few 10-cm lengths of the mixture. Leave them to fry for a few minutes, turning them over halfway through, until crisp and richly golden brown (You don’t have to wait for them to brown as much as mine did. A light golden colour is enough). Lift them out with a slotted spoon or tongs and drain them on kitchen towels.*
5. For the hot chocolate: Using the double-boiler method, break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl and rest it over a pan containing about 2.5 cm just-simmering water. Leave until completely melted. Bring the milk to the boil in another small pan. Remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and whisk in the hot milk. Pour into serving containers.
6. For the cinnamon sugar: Mix the caster sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish. Add the churros a few at a time and toss them gently until lightly coated. Serve the churros warm with your hot chocolate.
*Ellie advices that you can keep the churros warm while cooking the rest and making the chocolate by turning on your oven to 300°F (150°C) and placing your cooked churros on a baking tray lined with paper towels into the preheated oven.
The winner: While it’s been fun experimenting and comparing recipes, the Classic Churros [con Chocolate Caliente] is the winner by a long mile. Just the sound of the crunch and the feeling of munching these is enough to make you imagine eating breakfast in Spain. If there’s one churros recipe I’ll be making over and over again, the Classic Churros is it. In fact, I think I’ll make some on Sunday! Just the thought makes my mouth water.
Someday I hope I’ll get to post a photo of myself having some authentic churros in Madrid.