Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Mexican Churros for Hanukkah!

If your arteries aren't completely clogged yet on this second day of Hanukkah, then come on into my kitchen for a journey to a different kind of fried treat - the churro! Since traditional holiday foods are all about one thing - the oil - there's no need to stick to the classic sufganiya (jelly doughnut). (Latkes should stay latkes though, don't even get me started). So this year I tried this classic Mexican street food - with delicious results.

Churros are a classic fried snack in Spain and much of Latin America. Unlike most doughnuts, which are yeast-raised, churros get their leavening from only one thing: eggs. The dough is like a choux pastry, which means the flour and water is cooked first on the stove and then the eggs are beaten into the mixture. Then they are piped out, fried, and dumped in cinnamon sugar to make a delectable snack.

While I give full instructions for making churros below, your results will likely vary depending on the size you decide to pipe them - I used a pastry tip that was fairly small in size, and ended up with thin, mostly crispy churros. I used a star tip in order to get the traditional ridged look, but if you don't have that you can pipe them out from a plastic bag with the tip snipped off. Experiment with the cooking time depending on size and how crisp - or chewy - you want them to be.

A note on the wonders of deep frying - I give guidelines below for using a deep-fry thermometer (which you can see in the photo above). The temperature of the oil can fluctuate wildly over the course of frying, and many times I had to wait for it to reheat or even shut off the flame to get it to cool down. If you don't have a thermometer (and really, really don't want to buy one, despite my urging), you can drop scraps of dough into the oil to test it - it should bubble pretty heavily - but not smoke, and turn golden brown on one side in about 90 seconds.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart and King Arthur Flour

Looking for some other Hanukkah treats? Last year I made brownie dreidels, and two years ago - homemade cronuts

Recipe: Makes about 5 dozen churros 
1/2 cup (110g) butter or margarine
1 cup water 
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups (155g) flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Canola oil, for frying

Put the butter, water, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Place the pot over a medium flame and heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter has melted. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to low. Add the flour all in one shot, stirring vigorously. Continue to stir until the mixture forms a cohesive ball, about two minutes total. 
Remove from the heat and let cool for five to ten minutes, until hot but not boiling to the touch.
While the mixture cools, pour about 3/4" to 1" of oil into the bottom of a heavy skillet or pot. Heat to about 360 F (Or 375 F for thicker churros). 
Transfer the cooled dough to a bowl or stand mixer and beat in the cinnamon, then the eggs, one at a time, until a cohesive mixture forms. Continue beating another two to three minutes.
Put the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip - I used a #18 tip, for fairly thin churros.
Mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the coating, and set aside in a flat dish.
Once the oil is hot, pipe about 2" long strips of dough directly into the oil (hovering about an inch above it), using a knife or your finger to break them off as they go. Cook about 1 minute per side until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or metal sieve to remove the churros, drain them briefly on paper towels then toss them in the cinnamon sugar.
Continue with the remaining dough. Churros are best served immediately, and warm. They can still be served up to eight hours later, after being warmed in a low oven until just crisp.


  1. Does egg adding for softness ??

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