If you have ever lived in the American Southwest, and if you have ever gone to an outdoor event like a baseball game, there is a good chance you have eaten a churro. There is also a good chance that you have never made them at home.
Street vendors sell them from carts, and folks line up at concession stands to get the freshly made confections straight out of the deep fryer, messy with cinnamon sugar.
Fancy restaurants have taken to serving them a little more elegantly.
One reason you may have never made them is because they look complicated with their delicate flutes, crispy outsides, and creamy insides. Actually, they are easy to make. The dough contains as few ingredients as water, flour, and salt though there are recipes that call for eggs and what is really choux paste. Simple is still good. You do need a cookie press with a star-shaped disc or a special churrera made of gleaming plastic. A sturdy pastry sleeve fitted with a large star-shaped tip may work, but the dough is firm and could tear a flimsy one. Churros have their origin as a street food of Madrid, but they are now very much a part of Mexico and the American Southwest. The churrera that I own was made in Spain by a large cookware company, Bernar, S.A. They even make an industrial-size churrera if you want to go into the business. It was easy to find in our local cooking supply stores. (Of course, this is New Mexico). I guess that you could even drop spoonfuls of the dough into hot frying oil, but then I don’t think you could legitimately call them churros.
Churros are a bit like doughnuts and a close cousin to the funnel cakes sold at county fairs and the beignets of New Orleans. They should definitely be eaten warm. They lend themselves to creative variations: You can smother them in powdered sugar. You can dip them in chocolate sauce. You can put them on top of ice cream. You can top them with a fruit compote. You can drizzle them with cajeta, the Mexican caramel sauce made from goat’s milk, probably maple syrup, or just about whatever comes to mind. However you decide to serve them, folks of all ages, but especially the kids, will be clamoring for more.
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- oil for frying
- cinnamon sugar (optional)
- Combine the water, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil
- Remove from the heat and stir in the flour all at once, stirring vigorously until a smooth dough is formed. Cool in the pan
- Transfer the dough to a churrera fitted with the largest opening, or a cookie press, or a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 inch star tip.
- Place about 2 inches o frying oil in a deep, heavy pan and heat over a medium flame to 375°F.
- Press out about 5 inches of the dough into the hot oil, cutting it off with a table knife or your finger. Repeat until the pan is filled but not overcrowded.
- Turn the churros frequently until golden brown on all sides. Transfer to several layers of paper towel to drain. Roll in cinnamon sugar if desired. Serve while still warm.