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Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice!

I’m sure we all have a favourite snack or dessert that we’ve had at a restaurant or while on holiday.  It’s usually something that you never thought you’d be able to recreate again at home, which usually makes it even more special.  I wouldn’t necessarily call the Churro my favourite dessert or anything, but it’s definitely up there on my list of yummy things I didn’t think I could make at home – until now!

Back in Canada every once in a while we’d find a place that sold Churros.  It was usually at a ball park concession stand, or at a fair.  For those of you who’ve been to Disneyland, I’m sure you’ll have seen (and / or tasted) a Churro before.  They’re usually about a foot long in length, rigid in shape and coated in cinnamon and sugar.  They look a bit like a loofah.  They’ve got the most amazingly sweet and unavoidable smell, that beckons you from miles (ok maybe not miles, but definitely yards)  away. There’s just something about the combination of cinnamon and sugar that can make pretty much anything taste amazing.

So when I got the new Nigella Lawson “Kitchen” Cookbook this past Christmas I had a quick flip through it to see what caught my eye.  Two things jumped out at me – Grasshopper Pie and Churros.  I haven’t had either of them in years.  For those unaware, Grasshopper Pie is a chocolaty minty pie that’s coloured green.  It’s not only delicious, but great fun to eat – especially considering the name initially sounds so off putting.  And Churros – we’ll I’ve already told you about those!  

My friend Sarah over at Maison Cupcake is a huge fan of Nigella.  So much so, that she’s created a fun little challenge encouraging her readers to make something from a Nigella cookbook each month based on a theme she chooses.  This months “Forever Nigella” theme was “Seduced by Chocolate”.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m usually up for a challenge, and how could I say no to one with Chocolate??  I was short on a few of the ingredients needed to make the Grasshopper Pie, so I opted to make the Churros with Chocolate Dipping sauce and I’m glad I did.  They were so easy to make!  Plus they tasted amazing.  I had a look online at several other Churro recipes and they were all very similar to the one in my Nigella book.  A good sign when your making something new, as it means (well to me at least) that the recipe will a) turn out well, and b) generally taste authentic.

Like I said before, these Churros were one of the easiest things I’ve made in a while.  A hell of a lot easier than my Biscuit Joconde Sponge that’s for sure!  

To make these Churros you’ll need a few things:

Small Pot (like the type you’d make soup in)
A Piping Bag with large Star tipped nozzle
Scissors
Tongs
Long Wooden Skewers*
Candy / Frying Thermometer*
Small lunch sized paper bag*  

* Optional, but I found these very useful  

Chocolate Dipping Sauce:  

100g Dark Chocolate
25g Milk Chocolate
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup or Golden Syrup
150ml Whipping Cream or Double Cream  

1. Put everything together in a small sauce pot (or glass measuring cup that has been placed in a pot of hot water to create a double boiler).  Once the chocolate has started to melt, stir the chocolate & cream mixture until everything is well incorporated.  Set aside in a warm place. 

Churros:  (Slightly amended)

1/4 Cup (50g) Sugar
2 tsp Cinnamon  

1 Cup (125g) Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar  
1 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Cup (250ml) Boiling Water  

Vegetable Oil for frying  (approx 500 ml

1. Combine the cinnamon and 1/4 Cup (50g) of sugar in a shallow bowl, or a lunch sized paper bag and set aside.  Dump the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl, and then add in the olive oil and boiling water.  Beat on medium speed until a sticky wet dough is formed.

2. Leave your dough in the mixing bowl to rest while you heat up your oil over medium heat.  Nigella recommended heating the oil to about 340ºF (170ºC), but I found that too cool so I stuck with 355ºF (180ºC) which worked much better.  If you’ve got a candy/frying thermometer it will be easy to tell if your oil is ready.  If not, then Nigella recommends that you toss in a piece of bread when you think the oil is hot enough.  If it sizzles and goes a golden brown colour  in about 30 seconds then your oil is ready.  

3. Once your oil is hot enough you’ll need to transfer your dough into your piping bag.  The easiest way to do this is if you put your piping bag in a tall glass and wrap the fabric over top of the cup. This allows you to have both hands free to fill the bag.  Once your bag is filled bring it over to the pot of oil and begin to squeeze your dough out until it’s about 2 inches long before using your scissors to snip the dough off so it falls into the oil.  You can easily cook 4-5 pieces at a time, but I wouldn’t recommend doing anymore as to pot gets a bit crowded.  Also, the more pieces of dough you put in the more the oil cools off.   At 340ºF (170ºC) my oil was too cool so my pieces of dough sunk to the bottom.  I needed to use the wooden skewer to loosen them off the bottom of the pot, but it also came in very handy for flipping the Churro bites in the oil, as well as to push them around the pot to ensure the fresh dough didn’t stick to the nearly cooked pieces.  After about 3-4 minutes your Churro bites should be a nice golden brown colour with a crispy outside and a fluffy middle.  They should hold their shape when you take them out of the oil using a pair of tongs.  If they squish down, chances are they aren’t fully cooked – try leaving them in longer, or increasing your oil temperature.  Place the Churro bites on some paper towels to help absorb any excess oil. Repeat these steps with the remainder of the dough.  

4.  Once your Churro pieces have had a rest on the paper towels (for about 5 minutes) it’s time to toss them in the cinnamon and sugar.  I put my cinnamon and sugar into a paper bag so all I had to do was drop a few Churros into it and give it a shake.  If your using a bowl you can use your wooden skewers to move the Churro bites around so you don’t end up with cinnamon sugar coated fingers.  But really – is that a bad thing?  

5.  Once all your pieces are coated in the cinnamon and sugar place them on a serving dish, and pour your warm chocolate sauce into a little ramekin.  There you have it!  Deliciously authentic Mexican / Spanish Churros all ready for you to dip, dunk & dab in the delicious chocolate sauce!

See… / Nice and fluffy inside!