World’s Longest Street


It must be, to make it all the way from Madrid to Mexico City.  Churros are gloriously of that street, offered at roadside stands throughout the Spanish-speaking world (and in a few fortunate outposts beyond), delighting pedestrians with crunchy bursts of sweetness.  To those unfamiliar, think of a cinnamon donut, except crisper and lighter.  Absolutely sublime, and we haven’t even talked about the silky dipping sauce yet…

As with much of what found its way to the western hemisphere, churros originated in Spain and, in addition to being deliciously satisfying, must’ve been a good way to use up sugar and fat (oil) in advance of Lent.  From there they gained understandable popularity in the colonies, including in Mexico, which developed its own variation.  The New World also made its own indispensable contribution, in the chocolate sauce.  After all, cacao is from the Americas, and chocolate descended from chocolatl, an Aztec preparation. Again, more on this later.

The version on which this entry is based may be found in the Cook’s Country Cookbook, and is named “So-Cal Churros“.  What makes them “So-Cal,” as opposed to “Mexican” or “Spanish” is unclear, though whatever the reason, they’re wonderful.  The lightness, the crunch, the sweet tingle of cinnamon…wow.

First, start with a fairly basic egg dough, which is piped through a pastry bag:Raw Churros

After they firm up a bit in the fridge, it’s time for the hot oil:

Frying Churros

After that, more or less, they roll around in a pile of cinnamon-spiced sugar and then… ecstasy?  Not quite yet.

For the ultimate indulgence, something which elevates this beyond “mere” street food, eaters dip churros in smooth, molten chocolate.  Most preparations, including the Cook’s Country recipe, call for a nice creamy chocolate, which is a beautiful touch. However, today’s entry honors (ahem…supposedly) the Mexicans who developed churros and the Aztecs who invented chocolatl by spiking the chocolate with cinnamon and a bit of hot sauce.  This produces a chocolate more after the Mexican fashion, and it’s magnificent, whether on churros or by itself.

It’s a good thing that the street is so long, stretching from Europe to the Americas, else all that crunching would deafen. It’s the sure sound of happy eaters, of perfect contentment.

*****

So-Cal Churros

For the dough:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • s tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, optional (*1)

Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper and spritz it generously with cooking spray. (*2)

For the dough, combine in a large saucepan the water, butter, sugar, vanilla and salt.  Bring to a boil over a medium flame.  Turn off the heat and stir in the flour, all at once, with a rubber spatula.  Stir thoroughly until no streaks of flour remain.

Transfer the dough to a stand mixer bowl.  You’ll need the spatula for this, as the dough is quite substantial.  Be careful too, obviously, as the dough was boiling only a couple minutes prior.

Anyway, fix the mixer with the paddle attachment and beat it at low speed for a minute, to loosen it and to draw down the temperature.  Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs.  Beat until thoroughly incorporated, about a minute.

Transfer the warm dough (*3) to a pastry bag fitted with a wide “closed star” tip (shown below, next to a quarter, for your reference):Star Tip

Pipe the dough in six-inch lengths onto the baking pan you prepared, using scissors to snip off the dough when it reaches appropriate length.  Refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes to an hour. (*4)

While the dough chills, make the coating by combining well the sugar and cinnamon in a medium, wide bowl.

Line a second baking pan with parchment paper.  Apply cooking spray and place the pan in a 200-degree oven.

In a large saucepan or medium stockpot pour the oil to a depth of one-and-a-half inches.  Heat over a medium-high flame until the oil reaches 375 degrees.

Carefully add the churros, up to six at a time, rotating them frequently with a wooden spoon to ensure they cook evenly.  Cook for about six minutes, until the pastries are uniformly golden-brown.  Transfer the churros to a plate lined with a triple layer of paper towels.  Thirty seconds should be sufficient to wick away any excessive oil, then transfer the churros to the baking pan in the oven, to keep them warm until you’re ready for them.

Repeat what’s in the above paragraph until you’ve exhausted your supply of chilled dough.

Working with one pastry at a time, roll each still-warm churro in the cinnamon-sugar, being sure it’s generously coated.  Shake it gently to dislodge any excess powder.

Make the dipping sauce by combining the chocolate chips and the cream in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cook at medium power for 30 seconds.  Remove the bowl and stir together the chips and the cream. (*5)  Stir in the vanilla extract and, if using, the cinnamon and the hot sauce.  Dip the churros in it and enjoy!

NOTES:

1 – As mentioned in the intro, cinnamon and hot sauce give the dip a little Mexican flair.  Of course, it’s quite tasty without it, but even better with.

2 – i.e., Pam and the like.

3 – The warmer the dough, the easier it is to manipulate.  As the recipe unfolded and the dough cooled, forming it became more difficult, but it certainly wasn’t impossible.  Obviously not; see the pictures above.

4 – Try to use the full hour.  Just as churro dough is easier to pipe when it’s warm, the pastries are firmer and are more cooperative when they’re cold.

5 – This will seem to take forever.  The first time I made a ganache, which this is, essentially, I stirred for, like, 1,756 hours (OK, it was more like two minutes, but it felt as though an eternity unfolded).  Nothing but lumpy chocolate milk.

Still, I persisted and then, suddenly, a miracle.  Everything came together, giving me a bowl full of satin.  Sweet, creamy satin.  Have faith, for you too shall master ganache!

 

 

 

 

39 thoughts on “World’s Longest Street

  1. My “first time” was in 9th grade, when a schoolmate made churros for a “World Cultures” class. A tasty benefit of being in college prep!

    Like you, Jennifer, the “So-Cal” label baffles me. Maybe it’s meant to make the recipe sound more accessible to U.S. readers? “Well, if they make them in L.A., I bet I can too.”

    Cursory research reveals the original Spanish version is piped into the oil in a tight spiral pattern, almost like a funnel cake. The disc is then removed and is cut into wedges. The “So-Cal” variety seems to more pedestrian-friendly. True street food!

    Like

    1. No, thank you, ReptileQueen! Always encouraging to encounter another person whose interest these foods inspire.

      The results will please you, making me eager to read your thoughts, either here or on your blog. After all, if I can do it…

      “Must love cinnamon,” of course, though if you do, these will intoxicate you!

      Like

      1. Oh! I absolutely love cooking and baking! It puts me in an incredible headspace – blissful.

        Ooh, I do enjoy cinnamon quite a bit! I will keep you “posted” on how it goes when I try it!😊

        Like

      2. Same here! Cooking isn’t even close to what I do all week, but it helps to keep workplace stress where it belongs – in the office. As you mention, “blissful.”

        Flattered you’ve started following the blog. You’re the first from Africa, I believe. This began a couple years or so ago, and for a while it didn’t go far beyond friends and family, mostly in the northeast US. Now we have readers from all the permanently inhabited continents. …Wow! (Notice I said “permanently inhabited” continents. Sorry, Antarctica, you don’t count).

        Like

      3. Sometimes it’s best to have work be one thing, and the other things be stress eliminators, such as cooking and baking!

        Well I’m glad to be the first from South Africa! Congratulations on going so far in your blog! You must be incredibly happy and proud!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Your kind thought are most appreciated, ReptileQueen!

        Actually, “incredulous” is the adjective I’d choose. This started as a response to colleagues who asked, “What’d you do this weekend?.” “Have a look,” would be the answer. And now…really? Is this actually happening?

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I can imagine it must be hard to believe at times, as everything starts from nothing, it’s sometimes hard to see how one suddenly is much further along in something it felt like they had just started. Amazing how things grow!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Much appreciated, Tamara!

      I was a bit apprehensive about frying, as it’s far from my favorite cooking method, but things turned out OK, I think. At least from the limited potential of a WASP trying a Mexican recipe as interpreted by people in Vermont.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They’ll be there waiting for you when the park jolts back to life, too!

      Where do you live, Tamara? I take it from the “Disneyland” reference you’re Out West somewhere.

      We visited Disneyland numerous times when we lived in L.A., but as I was four when we moved to Chicago, I don’t remember much.

      Now, with Disneyworld I’m much more familiar…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmmm, Tamara, the “for now” suggests past, and future, mobility. Where else have you called home, pray tell? I’ve been all over, coast to coast, and maybe we’ve shared a state or even a city!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Worked in New York, but lived in Jersey. California…check! Kmart, well, been there too, though I don’t mourn its passage much.

        Were it not for that pesky Oregon, you could drive over 2,500 miles and stay within states you now or once called home. Only 44 more, Tamara, and you’ll complete the set.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well, I’m more familiar with North Jersey (my old home). Inner city/slum at the core (Newark), with a ring of industrial areas surrounding it. Then a seemingly endless progression of suburbs, most of them nice, some of them considerably so.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. L.A./Hollywood, huh? Did you live in the city proper, or somewhere in the outlying sprawl?

        I called the area home twice, Culver City, as a baby, and Huntington Beach (in the fabulous O.C.) as a toddler.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Maybe, Tamara, but it’s unlikely. Moreover, without a doubt, your first-hand knowledge of greater L.A. far outpaces anything I even could hope to imagine.

        Especially as I’m in awe of your knowledge of Canoga Park/Northridge, which, apparently, is where much of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” was filmed. Important to me, because the film features my first pre-teen crush, Phoebe Cates!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Since I’m self-isolating, here, and have a few extra minutes (days) to spare, I will name some cities I’m familiar with:

        Northridge
        Canoga Park
        San Bernardino
        Palmdale
        Reseda
        **Encino (my Favorite place; rode my bike in the Encino mountains and Ventura Blvd., frequently)
        Santa Marina
        Santa Barbara
        Mission Hills
        Simi Valley
        Orange County
        Topanga Canyon
        Malibu
        Santa Monica
        Thousand Oaks
        Monrovia
        Long Beach
        Well, and lots more places.

        I remember when Hollywood Blvd was bigger than life. I was a tiny girl back, then. It was all so glamorous. Shiny sidewalks with actors/actresses names; Growman’s (¿spelling¿) Chinese Theatre; Gag & Magic Shops, ETC.., so many things to do, and so many wonders to see! It was all so wondrous…

        Even though my childhood was traumatic and left many inner scars, there were also good memories as a very small child, from about the age of 2-4. After that, it all went downhill just like the Hollywood sign. Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I just noticed that Whacky WordPress isn’t notifying me of all my comments, so I need to manually check. So, if I’ve ever missed replying to any of your comments, it’s nothin’ personal… it’s just WordPress.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yep, Tamara, troubles seem to be popping up all over the WordPress kingdom. At first, I thought it was jest me, as I’ve been unable to “Like” anything for over a week now. The spot where the “Like” button usually appears now is perpetually “Loading…”

        This evening, though, three or four of my blogger-friends are complaining of things being seriously on the fritz.

        Particularly frustrating for me, as I’ve been ultra-busy at work, putting in all kinds of extended days. Unfortunately, that leaves little time for commenting on what I read. When I can’t “Like” either, I worry people think I’m ignoring the latest post or, worse yet, it offended me.

        Oh no, quite the opposite.

        Get Well Soon, WordPress!

        Liked by 1 person

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