Cinnamon Churros and Mexican Chocolate Sauce
Feliz cinco de mayo! When coming up with a recipe for today I found myself regretting posting that piñata cake a couple weeks ago. What better way to celebrate cinco de mayo than with a piñata?! But then I realized one of my all time favorite desserts also fits the bill: the glorious churro. Let me just tell you, I’ve eaten many churros in my lifetime and none of them come close to these bad boys.
The secret to these churros may not even be the churros themselves, but the spicy bath of chocolate sauce to top them off with. Now, I’m not one for spice; a single chunk of jalapeno in my pico de gallo sets me on fire, but the cayenne in this chocolate is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Think of these churros and chocolate as the new partners in crime. They’re about to give the PB&J a run for its money. So pour yourself a margarita (or a virgin margarita) y empecemos!
The base churro dough is a little bit different from your typical dough. Unlike most doughs, you need to bring the salt, sugar, vegetable oil and water to a boil. After boiling, remove from heat and stir in all the flour. The dough will be very thick. The best way I can describe this dough’s texture is like homemade playdough! I know, not exactly something you want to be eating outside of your preschool years (not saying I ever did!), but it tastes nothing like it. Just a similar consistency!
Scrape the dough out of the saucepan and place into a piping bag with a star tip. The tip really doesn’t matter, but if you want the traditional churro look, a star tip is your best bet. I would also recommend a bigger tip. Because the dough is so thick, forcing the thick dough through a smaller tip would be a lot harder. The cheapskate in me wishes that you could replace a piping bag in this step with a simple Ziploc bag, but unfortunately the dough is far too thick for that. Using a Ziploc bag would just end in an explosion of piping hot dough!
Now the churros start to take shape! Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone mat and pipe the dough in 3-inch strips. Not gonna lie, this part can really burn your hands because the dough is still very hot! To save your hands, you can always wear rubber dish gloves while you’re piping. You may look like a complete idiot, but it’s definitely worth it.
At this point, the dough is slightly too soft to hold its shape while frying. To keep their shape, I popped the piped churros into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This just allowed them to stiffen enough so that I could more easily slip them into the oil when it was time to fry!
While in the freezer, heat up the oil and prepare the cinnamon sugar mix on a plate to roll the churros in post-frying. Use a candy thermometer in the saucepan to monitor the heat of the oil. It’s very easy for the oil to get too hot if you keep the burner on medium heat, so you may need to turn it down and turn it back up a few times to keep it at a steady 375 degrees.
You can also start the Mexican chocolate sauce while the oil is heating. This one’s pretty simple. Place the chocolate, milk and sugar into a small saucepan and mix over low heat. Allow the ingredients to fully melt and incorporate to a smooth mixture. Remove from heat and stir in butter, vanilla and cayenne. You want this sauce to be warm when the churros are served, so you can either keep the chocolate simmering on the stovetop while stirring to prevent burning, or let sit and reheat on the stove when ready to serve.
When the oil reaches 375 degrees, take the dough out of the freezer and place strips into the oil. Be careful with this part! The oil tends to splatter out and can burn you, so make sure you place it in rather than drop. I had three strips frying at a time, using tongs to make sure they didn’t conjoin and become a mega-churro (as good as that sounds!). Once golden brown, use tongs or a metal spider to remove from the oil. Drain on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels and roll in the cinnamon sugar mix while still warm. Let cool for about 5 minutes and serve right away with warmed Mexican chocolate sauce.