Saturday, March 15, 2014

churro balls - at a theater near you

Today's blogpost is basically an excuse for me to fry up dough and eat it all by myself in a corner of my kitchen. I know, it's a chowfectionary sin not to share, so I did throw one to the squirrel in my backyard if you were wondering. Little creep's been eyeballing me all day. But seriously this chow-fection could not be simpler to make, plus at the end of it you get this nice bowl of cinnamon sugar...which you can throw away, he said as he cleaned the bowl with his tongue. 

There are so many reasons why you should make these churros. 

a) as professional as they look, they are also delicious

b) they are easy

c) and you'll gain some serious culinary street cred after you serve this to your guests

But before we learn how to make these, some background information. Cue the background music Darren. 
As you probably know, churros are a popular latin street food dessert. You can see them being sold in almost every alleyway in mexico. Think about it as a sweet tooth's crack. Deals are made under the table with people paying butt-loads of money for them, some even exchanging their homes just for a lick of the cinnamon sugar left on the wrapper. Information based on speculation, and personal experience. 

Usually these churros are long and skinny, and I have made them like that before, but this time I wanted to switch things up. The dough for this churro ball starts off with a classic french dough called pate choux. I'm not sure what they call it in mexico, but seeing as this is a mexican dish I'm sure they have a name for it. Instead of baking these into choux buns, or as you may know them as cream puffs, we fry them until they are golden brown or until there is no more white, but I'll explain that more later. In the picture above I served these with a maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting, but they're most commonly eaten dipped in hot chocolate or coffee. 

So to start we are going to take two sticks of butter, that's 1/2 cup, or 16 tablespoons, and melt that in a saucepan with 1 3/4 cup of water, and a pinch of salt. 

And right now is about as good as any time to tell you that in desserts, salt is one of the most important ingredients you can add. Just because we're making a sweet dessert, doesn't mean that you cannot add salt. Salt is an important flavor profile that is a key ingredient in the fragile balance of confections, so don't forget to put that in. And in fact, remember that day when you took two bites of that cake and said, "It's too sweet." That's because he or she or you forgot to put salt in the dish, or you just put too much sugar, but that's his or her or your battle to fight. So moving on, once your mixture has completely melted, immediately dump in your 1 1/4 cup of flour, and your 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and stir vigorously. Keep cooking over medium until most of the steam as evaporated out of the dough, or the dough begins to pull away from the pan, about 4 minutes. You don't want any color so when your arm starts to get tired, switch your wooden spoon to your other hand.

When I make choux I always put my face over the pan because while the water is evaporating I get a nice facial. I know steam is supposed to be good for your pores but I'm not sure if the butter in the dough clogs it back up. 

Anyways once you think enough water has evaporated take it off the heat. And at this point you want to switch to an electric mixer because, if you aren't the hulk, or a professional body builder, this next step is going to be a little challenging. Start to loosen up the dough, and release some of that extra steam, mix for about a minute. At this point add four eggs and an egg white, one at a time until each egg is fully incorporated. Depending on the amount of steam you evaporated, you might need to add one more egg, or one less, but in the end you should get a dough that is super smooth, tacky, and glossy. 

Cover with plastic wrap, and touch the plastic to the dough so it doesn't form a film. Refrigerate until room temperature, or freeze if you are in a hurry. Fill up a pan with high sides with corn oil, or peanut oil, any oil you want that has a high smoke point, comment below if you're not sure, and preheat it to 375, or until when you drop some batter in it nice bubbles form and it sounds delicious, you'll know. 

Now it's time to talk size. For me I used my ice cream scoop, which was partially the reason why i wanted to make balls because I didn't want to wash a piping bag, and yes I have one of those reusable ones, +1 if you have one too. Try to make your balls smaller than you think they should be. They will expand as they fry, and if you make them too big then the insides won't get cooked. You'd rather have smaller balls than one large soggy one true story. ;)

Fry up as many as you can fit in the oil, about 8-12, and you will see one of the coolest things you have ever seen. For the first 5 minutes of cooking, the balls will flip themselves. I don't know why or how, but they just do. My theory has an intensive backstory, with churros being slaves to the spanish people and being afraid of the oil, but I won't get into that much detail right now. Maybe if I get enough comments I'll tell you in the next post,hint hint. 

Drain these on a baking sheet lined with two layers of paper towels. While they are still hot, roll them around in 1 part cinnamon 3 parts sugar. Serve hot with a cup of hot chocolate. Or you can serve it with a maple cinnamon cream cheese frosting like I did. 

The recipe for that is simple, so simple that I don't even a have a recipe for it. All you need to do is combine cream cheese, maple syrup and cinnamon in a bowl. If it's too sweet add more cream cheese, if it is not sweet enough add some maple syrup. Really if you've gotten up to this point you can mix a decent frosting. 

So that's it for this recipe, I'll post recipes every week, scroll down for more Chow-fections, and as always, 


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