You had a light dinner and have been eating clean and healthy all week. That calls for treating yourself with a light and delicious sweet treat - a cheat day. Something that's crunchy but chewy and sweet. I have just the thing in mind for you to snack on: Churros!
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Churros are one of those nostalgic sweet treats that seem acceptable in any sort of venue. You could eat it at home, at a bakery, a restaurant, or even a wedding reception and it seems acceptable in all of those places. Why?
Because unlike a donut or a muffin, it can be dressed up to look fancy with dipping sauces and small bite sizes or dressed down for a carnival or a movie theatre with minimal mess when you eat it.
But of course, I'm not bad-mouthing donuts since I used them as a substitute for my wedding cake during my wedding reception and they were a total hit!
Churros are surprisingly easy to make. It's a bit of a mix of stove top action, mixing in a bowl, and then ultimately, deep frying back on the stovetop for its delicious crispiness. Since it's a blend of cooking techniques, I think that's why there's such a variety of textures within a churro.
Growing up, dipping churros in sauce wasn't an idea back in 19_ _. (I can't give away my age that easily!) But now, you can pair all different types of sauce with your churro, which is truly "the icing on top" of this dessert. The sky's the limit.
So here, I’ll show you why this is the ideal churro recipe.
Things to Note
Coinciding with my dairy-free recipes in my baking, there are a couple of things to note in this churro recipe that makes my recipe a bit different from other ones.
The first thing to note is that I will not be using butter in this recipe at all. This includes the first step of mixing the batter together on the stovetop, which usually requires butter. Don't worry. It'll turn out well despite the lack of butter.
Butter melts into a type of oily consistency anyways in this first step since it's over the stovetop, so it’s safe to substitute with oil or nondairy butter (essentially oil) to get the same consistency of churro batter.
The second thing to note in this recipe that may be different from the usual churro recipe is that instead of using only all-purpose flour, I added 30% of bread flour to the mix. Similar to my soft pretzel recipe, the bread flour allows for a soft chewiness in the middle of the churro while still allowing it to become crispy on the outside.
The ideal churro has the crunch on the outside and a soft chew in the middle. If the entire churro is crunchy from the outside in, you might as well eat a potato crisp instead of a pastry.
Choosing the Right Piping Nozzle
When it comes to choosing the cake piping nozzle, or in this case the churro piping nozzle, to obtain the churro shape, you want to use the closed star shape. If your piping nozzle set is like mine, you’ll have multiple sizes and be tempted to reach for the largest size. That would be a mistake.
The reason the largest piping nozzle would be a mistake is because despite it making the ideal large shaped churro, the churro most likely won’t cook on the inside despite browning on the outside.
The result will be a crispy outer churro with an uncooked middle. Yuck!
This recipe is a quick one. From start to finish it took me probably about 30 minutes, where the majority of the time was waiting for the batter to fry.
A Mini Tip
The mixing of the batter requires heat, so you need to move quickly to make sure the batter stays warm while mixing. My recommendation is to measure all of your ingredients out before going to the stovetop (before Step One)..
If you have all of your ingredients measured out and supplies ready to grab, the first four steps can be accomplished in about 10 minutes and you don't have to worry about burning the batter over the stove as you reach for different ingredients to add.
Churro Ingredients: 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup bread flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 cup water 1 large egg (cold) For Chocolate Dipping Sauce: 1/2 cup semi-sweet dairy free chocolate chips 1/4 cup almond milk (or any dairy free milk) 1 teaspoon maple sugar (if you want the sauce sweeter) For Cinnamon Sugar Topping: 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 tablespoon cinnamon
Making the Churro
(makes about 18-20 churros)
In a saucepan on the stove, mix together the water, oil, salt and sugar and bring it to a boil on low-medium heat.
Once the liquid mixture is boiling, add the flour and mix rigorously with a rubber or wooden scraper until the batter is smooth. Make sure to get rid of any clumps of flour by spreading the batter around in the saucepan while mixing.
Take the batter off of the stove and into a heat-safe mixing bowl. Let it cool for 5 minutes. Then, add a cold egg. Mix the egg into the batter using an electric mixer or with the spatula.
It's important that the batter is not hot when you add the egg and that the egg is cold as well so that you're not cooking the egg as you incorporate the egg into the batter.
The egg will seem like it will not mix into the batter initially, but keep mixing and it will eventually incorporate into the batter smoothly.
Place batter into a piping bag with the piping nozzle attached. Tie off the large open end of the piping bag to prevent the batter from leaking back out as you pipe.
Heat 1-1/2 inch (3.8 cm) in depth of oil in a pot to 350°F (175°C). Check the temperature with a deep-frying or candy thermometer.
Pipe the batter as 5-inch (12.5 cm) lengths into the hot oil. Use a pair of scissors to cut the ends near the piping nozzle. (I used my finger to cut off the ends and that worked well for me.)
If the batter is not straight in the oil, you can straighten it out with a spatula or your scissors in hand before it fries into a solid shape.
This should allow you to fry about five churros at a time without them sticking to each other.
Fry the batter on each side until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes per side).
Place the fried churros onto a plate covered with paper towels to soak up any excess oil for about a minute.
Mix together the cinnamon and sugar on a plate. White still hot, place the churro into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and roll it around until it’s covered to your liking. Let it cool on a serving dish for a couple of minutes.
Serve while still warm with the dipping sauce of your choice.
Chocolate Dipping Sauce
This is a completely optional step. As I mentioned in the beginning, I grew up without the dipping sauce factor for churros. Churros was always just a heavily cinnamon and sugar flavour only. So why try something like a chocolate dipping sauce with your churro?
I tried dipping a churro in the chocolate dipping sauce, expecting a sweetness overload. But to my pleasant surprise, it was delightful!
Personally, I dislike it when desserts are too sweet. I can only take one bite before the nauseated feeling comes over me and I need something savoury to give me some relief.
Yet in the case of this particular churro recipe, the chocolate dipping sauce works because the churro itself (without the cinnamon sugar topping) isn't too sweet.
In the entire batter, we're only adding 2 tablespoons of sugar. That's not much in comparison to the overall (more than one cup of) batter size.
Add dairy free semi-sweet chocolate chips and almond milk (or other dairy free milk) into a microwave-safe bowl.
Microwave for 20-30 seconds on high. To be safe, start off at 20 seconds then check if the chocolate chips have melted by giving the mixture a stir..
If the chocolate chips have not melted, microwave at 5 second increments until the chocolate chips can be stirred to dissolve any remaining bits.
I had to stir for about 2 minutes to see the chocolate chips completely dissolve.
Place the warm chocolate mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving. This should slightly solidify the mixture resulting in a thicker sauce.