Churros

When we last went on holiday to Gran Canaria 18 months ago, we feasted every morning on the Spanish “doughnut” – churros, dipped in thick hot chocolate. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to try my hands at making it – surely it cannot be that difficult, right?

Well… right and wrong. If you have never made churros before, you might want to continue reading this.

Churros!
Churros! As you can see, it did turn out okay in the end…

I followed this recipe from a website that is supposedly written by real Spanish home cooks, for the most authentic flavour and texture. I’ve seen a few recipes online that talks about adding eggs or vanilla to the batter, but this one doesn’t. And this one doesn’t tell you to use double cream for the chocolate sauce either (it’s snowing and I don’t have double cream in the house).

I made the chocolate sauce first, which was easy enough. Heat 1L whole milk in a saucepan until just before boiling, add 300g chopped up dark chocolate and stir until melted through. Not wanting to make that much chocolate sauce, I halved the recipe by using 500ml whole milk and added 150g dark chocolate.

The problem was, my chocolate sauce looked too watery for what I envisioned it to be. It looked like very nice hot chocolate drink and would be lovely for this snowy day, but not something that I figure will cling to the churros. So I added another 150g dark chocolate.

Still too watery.

More chocolate went in. In case you are wondering why the world is in short supply of cocoa to make chocolate, I think it’s all in my house. I seem to manage to dig out an endless supply of chocolate today, from mixed sources such as Hotel Chocolat, Lindt, Dr Oetker’s, and Tesco’s own.

By the time the consistency looked right to me, I had already added around 3x the chocolate the recipe indicated. Now the chocolate sauce is dark, gooey, coats the back of my spoon and forms a nice flowy ribbon of chocolate sauce when I lift the spoon.

Then I move on to the batter. The recipe tells me to heat water and oil until simmering, and then add flour, sugar and salt in and mix until the dough sticks. It does not say add bicarbonate of soda as well, so I didn’t and I figured that can be incorporated later.

Big mistake.

The dough cooks, obviously, in the hot water, and soon enough, you have a very sticky dough that clumps together. I had to add a splash of water because it was so clumpy, the flour wasn’t mixing together enough. This is a tough-ish dough, like cookie dough but stickier from the cooking, and it is almost impossible to evenly mix the bicarbonate of soda with it after it as cooked unless you feel like kneading hot steaming dough, so the bicarbonate of soda should have been added to the flour at the beginning and cooked in.

Now I’m thinking, how the hell am I going to pipe this thing? It is tough. But the recipe says you can do it, and all the churros I’ve ever eaten were piped, so I went to get my (disposable-but-tough) blue piping bag, place the biggest star-shaped nozzle I have in my piping set in it, and put all of the dough in there.

That’s another mistake, by the way, in case you don’t already know where this cooking adventure is going.

I tried to pipe it like I would pipe macarons. It doesn’t work, because the dough would rather expand sideways than through the nozzle at the bottom, and after making around 3 churros, the piping bag had an aneurysm which led to it haemorrhaging batter sideways. Nothing can be done about that, so I did a quick surgery with my scissors to rescue the batter and place all of it back in the bowl. RIP Piping Bag #1 – you will be missed.

Piping Bag #2 comes out. It’s a good job I bought 20 of these. This time, I place just enough batter to make 2-3 churros at a time. This time the piping bag fared much better, and I managed to make 8 churros before the piping bag gave out.

I was pretty annoyed at this point anyway, so I decided to screw using piping bags, and just made the pretty piped churros by putting batter into the nozzle and pressing the batter through it with my (clean, of course) thumb.

Yes, you read that right. And that was the easiest, albeit messiest, way I made churros today.

By the way, if you are wondering if there are enough churros to feed a lot of people… it doesn’t look like a lot when you cook it, but the combination of deep-fried batter and thick chocolate sauce is very filling.

I reckon it feeds 4 as a meal and 6 as snacks, with way too much chocolate sauce leftover. The chocolate sauce recipe makes enough chocolate sauce to cater for a huge party, because I’ve used maybe 1/10 of it!

Guess we might be having chocolate sauce over everything for the next few days. And I suppose the chocolate sauce can be thinned down with hot milk to create a nice authentic cup of hot chocolate (not the rubbish chocolate-flavoured water vending machines give out).

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