When I think I almost learned Spanish… I could have read all the chocolate con churros recipes I found during my research in the language of Cervantes, without having to rely on my good friend Google Translate!
Had I known that I would end up in California, I would have definitely picked Spanish as a second foreign language in school.
But I ended up choosing German as these classes tended to attract better students at the time.
As an adult, I have come to regret this choice as my travels have taken me far more often to Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain, Mexico or the Dominican Republic and… California, where I would have had ample opportunity to practice my Spanish… at least more than in Germany. Indeed, my only trip to Germany was for an interview, which was conducted in English!
You have to go to Spain to understand the importance of the long and thin donuts to Spanish cuisine and culture. I had been to Spain a number of times in my childhood and even as an adult, but it is only when I went to Madrid for work this year that I really appreciated the real chocolate con churros as I had the chance to visit Chocolateria San Gines, an institution in the Spanish capital.
Churrerias are establishments where you can taste churros accompanied by hot chocolate. Originally from Madrid, they can now be found everywhere in Spain. In the morning, they are crowded with night owls after a night of drunken fiesta. In fact, chocolate con churros have a reputation of being excellent hangover food. These night owls cross paths with early risers, who themselves start the day with the famous must-have breakfast.
The origin of churros is very controversial. Some sources say that it is the Portuguese explorers who returned from Asia who shared the techniques of these donuts to their Spanish neighbors. The Spanish gave them the now famous shape.
According to others, churros would indeed be a Spanish invention, attributed to shepherds who didn’t have pastries when they were traveling with their herds. They therefore developed this churros recipe with very basic ingredients: water, flour, salt and sugar, which could be prepared without an oven as the dough just needed to be deep fried in hot oil on simple stoves.
The element that is supporting this version is the Spanish sheep breed called navajo churro with curved and grooved horns like churros. The name of these treats may actually come from this variety of sheep.
To make real churros with the right size and grooves, it is recommended to use a churrera, which is a tool that can easily be found on the internet.
But a simple pastry bag with a star tip is more than enough to make them at home. The dough is quite thick, so do not forget to add “elbow grease” to the list of ingredients!
- 2 cups of water
- 2 cups flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cups whole milk
- 5 oz dark chocolate
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Bring water and salt to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour the flour mixed with sugar, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to make a smooth dough which separates easily from the edges of the pan. Let cool.
Heat the oil in a pan for deep frying. Put the dough in a churrera, or a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
Press to form sticks about 5 inches long and gently drop them into the frying oil. Avoid frying too many churros at the same time as they might stick together.
Using a slotted spoon, turn them during cooking, then when they are golden brown, drain and place on a paper towel immediately.
Either sprinkle with powdered sugar or leave plain to soak them in hot chocolate.
Take ¼ cup of milk and mix it with cold cornstarch.
Bring to a boil the remaining 1-¾ cup of milk and chopped chocolate, and stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted with the milk.
Maintain a small boil and pour the cornstarch dissolved in cold milk. Stir over low heat until thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes.