Churros and chocolate

After a very late and very big Sunday lunch, I can’t face eating much for dinner. But I might just have room for a little indulgence!

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my very first deep fat fryer, and I am always looking for an excuse to use it! Whilst you can fry perfectly well in a saucepan, the ability to easily hold the temperature steady makes frying so much easier; Deep fat fryers are pretty inexpensive these days too. In the short time I’ve had my new toy, the amount of triple cooked chips I’ve made is positively staggering!

But I also thought that the fryer would be very useful for making doughnuts. Whilst I am certainly looking forward to making some big jam-filled sugary treats, I think that’s going be a little heavy for this evening, so I need something just a bit lighter. And then I thought of churros…

Churros are made with a choux pastry, like eclairs or profiteroles, but instead of being baked, they are fried. They are golden and crispy on the outside, and soft and doughy on the inside. I often buy churros on the South Bank from a busy van, and they always disappear in moments – not least because the kids can’t wait to get their hands on them! Usually served with a warm chocolate sauce, they are just wonderful.

And fortunately, aside from the fear factor of working with boiling oil, they’re really easy to make.

All you need to do is weigh out some butter into a saucepan, and then add some water, sugar and salt.

This mixture needs to be brought to a boil, and then flour stirred in and cooked through. Beat the paste continuously as it cooks, and it should start to become glossy and homogenous, coming together in a ball as you stir it around the pan.

The saucepan then needs to be removed from the heat before the eggs are beaten into the mixture. You can do this by hand, but it’s much easier to chuck everything into your stand mixer and let that take care of the hard work! Beating eggs into choux with a wooden spoon is the kind of thing that can give you blisters, so is best avoided if at all possible!

Once the egg is fully incorporated, you can transfer the choux pastry into your piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. I like fairly large churros, with soft doughy centres, so I use a tip that is about 15mm across – mine is a Jem #2M.

It’s important to twist the bag behind the nozzle when you fill it, otherwise all your choux pastry is going to come pouring straight out of the end. I like to set up my bag inside a pint glass to make it easier to fill, folding the edges down around the outside of the glass.

Before frying your churros, I think it’s sensible to get everything else ready first. So prepare your cinnamon sugar in a shallow dish, and get your chocolate sauce warmed through.

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It is easier to melt all the chocolate first before adding the cream and golden syrup. If you’re super lazy you can just shove it in the microwave all together, but I always seem to have a few lumps of chocolate that refuse to melt if I do it that way – I’m not entirely sure why that happens. Your sauce will appear quite runny to start with but it will thicken up quite a lot as it cools – it’s basically a ganache.

When you’re ready to fry your churros, get your oil up to 180ºc, and then whip out your trusty kitchen scissors. Pipe out the choux pastry directly over the oil, and snip off lengths of about 10 centimetres. Only make a handful of churros at a time – you want all your churros to be floating on the surface.

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Fry the churros for about 4 minutes, depending on their size. Turn over after a couple of minutes to ensure even browning. I often find that the straighter churros will flip over by themselves about halfway through cooking anyway.

Once they’re nicely browned on both sides, drain the churros on paper towels for a couple of minutes, and then roll in the cinnamon sugar.

Serve immediately with a bowl of the chocolate sauce while they are still warm.

Delicious, and so easy 🙂

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Churros and chocolate sauce

1 cup water
115g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup (120g) bread flour
3 large eggs

Vegetable oil for frying

1/2 cup (100g) caster sugar
heaped teaspoon of cinnamon

200g milk chocolate
170g double cream
50g golden syrup

In a saucepan, boil the water, butter, sugar and salt.
Stir in the flour until it is cooked through – about a minute.
Using a stand mixer or a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Place into a piping bag with a large star tip.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish.

Place chocolate, cream and golden syrup into a heatproof bowl.
Melt together in a microwave, stirring frequently, or over a bain-marie.

Heat the oil to 180c, and snip off 10cm lengths from the piping bag.
Fry for about 4 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Drain churros on paper towels.
Roll in cinnamon sugar and serve with the warm chocolate sauce.

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