I dare you to find me one person who does not swoon over the thought of churros. Even the most hardened anti-sweets eater will bend a bit when you talk about a bright winter morning on the plaza in Madrid, or at the market in a tiny Latin American town, biting into the warm fried crunch of a churro. They are the simplest form of bliss – a tube of fried, eggy, crispy dough sprinkled with sugar. And dipped in chocolate, well, they just might transport you to another level of consciousness.
Churros are ubiquitous in Spain and Mexico, and for some reason, eating them there comes with none of the guilt brought on by downing donuts in the U.S. For as nutritionally dubious as they may be, they don’t feel heavy. Fried to perfection, they should be crispy on the outside and airy in the middle, sprinkled with just enough sugar to give texture and a brief thrill of sweetness. The dough itself is not sweet; it’s eggy, a bit like French toast, but crunchy instead of soggy.
There should be a satisfying two syllable cru-unch
when you bite into a churro, and you need a moment to get the full indulgence of it. Here, when I made them, I was looking out onto one of those cool, crisp Mexican mornings where the sky is so blue it looks infinite. And while I dunked and ate my churros I thought with a bit of nostalgia about doing the same thing on a freezing, snow-covered Northern morning. Wherever you are, under a shiny blue sky or in the midst of a snowstorm, a churro makes it just a bit sweeter.
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar for sprinkling (try to find a thicker kind, not the super-thin refined kind)
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of vanilla extract
vegetable oil for frying
In a saucepan, heat the water and butter until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the flour until you have a thick paste. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add with salt and vanilla to the flour mixture. Stir well until the dough forms a ball. Heat oil until sizzling.
Squeeze churros into the oil through a piping tube with a star tip (each churro should be about three or four inches long). If you don't have a tube, don't worry, you can simply use a bag with a half-inch hole at the end to squeeze out the churros. Fry until golden brown, then remove and roll in sugar. Serve warm with hot chocolate or coffee.
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