Churros are short, fluted fried dough sticks and are popular throughout Spain and South America. They originated in Spain. Churros are often enjoyed for breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee but Mexicans often enjoy them in the evening as well.
Mexican churros are usually longer than the Spanish type and can be filled with custard. If you visit Mexico, you are sure to see churros being made and sold at street stands in every town. The following recipe calls for the hot churros to be rolled in cinnamon and sugar for a truly special taste. They are best served piping hot.
So what is the exact history of churros, you might wonder. Actually it is not so clear. Some people think they were first made by the Portuguese and then became popular all over Europe. The Portuguese explored the East and then returned home from Ming Dynasty China armed with new cookery techniques.
In China they made You Tiao, which are a bit like churros but usually rounded not made with a star-shaped nozzle like modern churros are. The Chinese ‘pulled’ the dough rather than pressing it through a star-shaped nozzle, but the Portuguese did not learn that technique because the Chinese Emperor at the time made it a capital crime to teach foreigners anything, so nobody took the risk! This is just a theory anyway, although it does seem likely.
Another story however is that Spanish shepherds are responsible for inventing churros. The reason for this is that churro paste was simple to prepare and the shepherds could fry it in the mountains over an open fire. The churros made a tasty substitute for fresh baked goods and the shepherds spent most of their working time in the mountains where they would not be able to get freshly baked cakes or pastries. Whichever of these stories is the correct one (if either) it is always interesting to discover more about the history of popular Mexican desserts.
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup butter
- 2 quarts vegetable oil
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- Heat the vegetable oil to 360 degrees F in a deep skillet.
- You will need about 1 ½ inches of oil.
- Bring the butter and water to a rolling boil in a saucepan.
- Mix the salt with the flour and add this to the butter mixture.
- Turn the heat down to low, stirring it all the time until you get a ball of dough.
- This will take about a minute. Take the mixture off the heat.
- Beat in the eggs gradually, and then spoon this mixture into a star-tipped pastry piping bag.
- Squeeze 4 inch lengths of the batter into the hot oil, frying 3 lengths at once for a couple of minutes per side or until golden brown.
- Drain the churros on paper towels.
- Combine the sugar and cinnamon and roll the hot churros in it.
- Serve hot with a cup of coffee or chocolate for dunking.
Crispy and delicious, these churros are best served hot from the fryer, rolled in cinnamon sugar. One is never enough with churros, and that sentiment is true of all kinds of Mexican desserts from buñuelos to wedding cookies. Just try to eat only one and you will be reaching for another before you know it! Churros have an ambiguous history and it cannot be proven whether they originated in Portugal (inspired by Chinese fried pastries) or Spain but the speculation about churros’ roots just serves to make them all the more interesting. Enjoy these with coffee or perhaps with Mexican hot chocolate.
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