The other week I went to Phoenix’s Zoolights event where the Phoenix Zoo sets up enormous Christmas light displays throughout the zoo. The last time I went I was in elementary school with my Girl Scout troop and I remember the whole event made me so excited for Christmas. Of course the spectacle of lights isn’t quite as impressive as an adult, no matter how hard you try to enjoy it all. I think the best part of that night happened while we were waiting in a seemingly endless line to purchase our tickets. The family in front of us gave us two extra free entrance coupons they had. Sometimes the smallest act of kindness can make everything better. What small act of kindness turned your day around recently?
I do have one regret from our Zoolights adventure: I never got a churro from one of the food stalls. My reasoning was that we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and I didn’t want to spoil my appetite or have a sugar crash later on but that missed churro haunted my dreams. I just had to make them at home to satisfy my lingering churro craving. Let’s just say that although my house smelled like one of those fried food carts the rest of the day, it was so worth it to bite into that still-warm, crunchy yet soft, and cinnamon sweet churro.
Taste: Is there anything better than cinnamon sugar + fried goodness + chocolate? Seriously?!
Texture: Crunchy on the outside, soft inside. I think churros are one of those foods with a perfect texture that you must satisfy when you get a craving because nothing can beat it.
Ease: The dough is actually super easy. Frying took a couple of churros for me to test before I got down the motion and the timing. Hey, no one complained about a slightly crooked churro, right?
Appearance: Just look at that crunchy cinnamon sugar coating in the photo above and your mouth will instantly start watering. Pavlov’s churros?
Pros: Like having Disneyland in your kitchen.
Cons: Frying can be a pain and it’s not exactly nutritious.
Would I make this again? Yes.
Churros with Chocolate Sauce
Yield: About 12 large churros or 24 small churros.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
3 large eggs
For the cinnamon sugar:
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a large shallow bowl.
For the chocolate sauce:
Place the chocolate and salt in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling. Remove the cream from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute then whisk together until smooth. Whisk in the Grand Marnier (more or less to taste).
For the churros:
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter, water, and salt over medium high heat. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the flour. Stir well for 30-45 seconds over low heat, allowing the dough to dry out a little. Remove from heat. Stir eggs in one at a time, making sure to thoroughly incorporate each egg into the dough before adding the next one. Stir vigorously until dough is smooth.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2-inches of vegetable oil over medium-high. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. When the oil reaches 350°F, pipe 4- to 8-inch segments of dough into the oil, cutting the dough with kitchen shears. Quickly straighten the dough out with tongs if it curls. Fry for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Test the first churro to make sure the center is cooked through and no longer doughy. Toss fried churros in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Serve with warm chocolate sauce.