China? Where does China figure in all these? Well, Spanish / Portuguese churros are an adaptation and modification of Chinese youtiao. A simplification, in fact, because the Portuguese sailors who encountered youtiao and wanted to tweak the cooking process were not skilled to execute the elaborate dough-pulling technique that making youtiao required.
Personally, I want to thank those sailors. I don’t think I can manage to replicate how the Chinese make their youtiao dough (I want to try though) but I’m pretty good at making choux pastry.
And what exactly is choux pastry? The proper name is pâte à choux (pronounced pat-a-shoo). The popular belief is that it was originally made by a chef in the court of Catherine de Medici in the 16th century although it went by another name at the time.
The dough does not contain any rising agent like yeast, baking powder or baking soda. Instead, the dough expands during frying or baking because the high water content in the dough creates steam that pushes the dough outward while creating air pockets inside.
It starts with butter and water that are heated together. Flour is dumped in and the mixture is cooked with constant stirring until it comes together like any other dough.
When the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, it is transferred to a bowl and mixed to cool it down to prepare it for the next step.
Eggs are added one by one mixing after each addition. If the dough is still hot when you add the eggs, they will cook in the heat and the dough will not form properly. So, make sure that the dough is cool before you add your eggs. By the time all the eggs have been mixed in, you’ll have a soft, wet and sticky dough.
Spoon the dough into a piping bag fitted with a star tip then press the dough directly into a pan of hot oil. Once the underside is browned and crisp, flip the piped dough over to brown the other side.
If you prefer not to pipe the dough into a spiral in the hot oil, there is another method for cooking churros. With one hand holding the piping bag and another holding a pair of kitchen scissors, you pipe the dough with one hand and cut it with the other. Roll the strips around in the oil for even browning.
Churros are best served hot. You may dust it with powdered sugar or a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Or you may drizzle chocolate over them. But our favorite way of enjoying our churros is to dip them in thick chocolate. You’ll find the recipe below.
Churros con chocolate
Choux pastry (pâte à choux pronounced pat-a-shoo)
- 60 grams butter - softened
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large whole eggs
- ½ cup chopped sweetened dark chocolate
- ½ cup full-fat milk
For deep frying
- cooking oil
Make the choux pastry
- Pour half a cup of water into a pan. Add the butter, sugar and salt. Heat until the butter melts.
- Take the pan off the heat, dump the flour all at once and mix with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Put the pan on the stove and, over medium heat, cook the dough with constant stirring until it pulls away from the sides of the pan.
- Transfer to a mixing bowl and beat for about a minute to cool the mixture.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. You should have a soft and sticky dough.
Make the chocolate sauce
- Dump the chopped chocolate into a bowl.
- In a sauce pan, heat the milk to barely simmering and pour over the chocolate.
- Stir until the chocolate melts.
Fry the churros
- In a wide frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Spoon the prepared choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Press to remove air pockets. Don’t panic if the pâte à choux doesn’t fit into the piping bag. You will refill the piping bag later.
- Pipe the dough directly into the hot oil in an unbroken spiral. Cook the dough in the hot oil until golden brown and crisp outside.
- Flip the whole thing over halfway through the frying.The second way is to pipe the dough
- The churros are done when they are browned and crisp. Drain the fried churros on a rack.
- Refill the piping bag and pipe into the oil once more. Repeat until all the pâte à choux has been cooked.
- If you cooked your churros in a spiral, cut into three-to-four-inch sticks.
Serve the churros con chocolate
- Place the cut churros on a plate.
- Half-fill small cups with the chocolate sauce, and arrange beside the churros.