Standing up for authentic, homemade churros
If you have been to Spain, I´m pretty sure you have had “churros con chocolate” as part of your food immersion to try the classic Spanish dishes and traditions. I recently was asked in one of my Churros with Chocolate Online Cooking Classes if this was something Spaniards do or it was just a tourist thing. I was surprised about the question, and thought “of course, we do! what kind of question is that?”.
We have churros with chocolate as a breakfast or “merienda” (the snack between lunch and dinner, kind of “afternoon tea”). It´s not something we have every day but we have it at the weekends, on a Sunday afternoon, now and then. We love a crispy churro, coated in sugar, and dipped in a hot, thick chocolate. The crispy, oily, sweet dough, combined with the bitterness, thick chocolate is a decadent pleasure.
Churros: A decadent bite that we love in Spain
Let me clarify a language confusion. Decadent is a “false friend” in terms of Spanish-English languages. Decadente in Spanish means declining. So, yes, churros can be a decadent but declining bite. Churros with chocolate have been disregarded a bit and considered an oldish food in Spain in the last decades. It was difficult to compete with the colourful and delicate macaroons or the fun, attractive, over-decorated cupcakes, right? The poor churro is plain, in colour, and in shape, and if you don´t find a good place with quality dough and care about the oil they use to fry them, churros can be greasy and heavy. Horrible experience! Add to that some expressions we use like “¡vete a freír churros!” (go to fry churros) or “¡me importa un churro! (I don´t care a churro)- the poor thing loses in all the competitions.
This is a post to reclaim the position churros deserve in the history of food! Well, maybe it sounds a bit pretentious but I believe that churros have the right to have a better consideration as it is a delicious and classic Spanish dish.
Churros, the new trend in Spain?
Churros are having a second life in Spain recently. There are chefs that work to offer a good, crispy churro. It can be a delicious mouthful, to be honest.
As with everything, it requires some care, technique, and quality ingredients. With that, you can make delicious churros at home.
- The dough. The churro dough is simple: flour, water, and a pinch of salt. I add also a bit of butter, but it´s optional. It´s a “scalded dough”, like when we make choux pastry, but without eggs: we put all the flour in one go when the water is boiling. My mum calls this step “scare the flour”.
- The flour. You can use plain flour, no need to use strong flour, but don´t use self-raising flour at all; we are not making a cake but a savoury dough.
The shape. You can make churros with a “churrera” that you can buy online and it´s not expensive, but a piping bag and a star nozzle work as well like you can see on my Churros with Chocolate Online Cooking Class.
The oil and the temperature: the key for a perfect churro
- The oil. Use new and clean oil, not reused. I recommend pomace olive oil as there are scientific pieces of evidence that it´s the best for deep frying. I will talk about this in another post.
- The temperature. This is the key moment. You need a high temperature to deep fry (180/190C) and it will depend on the oil you use but it never should get the smoking point. Check with a food thermometer or, if you don´t have one, put a piece of bread, if it´s golden brown in 15 seconds, the oil will be at 180C and in 10 seconds, at 190C.
- Fried food, no fry-up or in Spanish, “fritura, no fritanga”. You will see churros recipes that are baked in the oven as a healthier option instead of deep-frying. I really don´t like them as a churro has to be crispy but in the oven, they don´t get that crispiness. Don´t be scared of deep-frying as it´s not an unhealthy way to cook if you use good oil, in good proportion with respect to the food you are frying, and at the right temperature.
Having authentic churros with chocolate at home is easy, just need a bit of practice.
You can have your churros with a hot, thick chocolate but also with savoury dipping sauces. It can be a great snack!