Grab an umbrella, take a walk in the rain with someone you love, and come back to cozy up with these Rustic Spanish Churros and Drinking Chocolate.
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM SPAIN!
LET’S TALK ABOUT the most romantic place on earth: Euskal Herria, or Basque Country. They speak their own language, Euskadi, or Basque, and it is unrelated to any other language. They also have their own special rain, a fine mist that dances all around you, and they call that txirimiri. If you are in Basque Country during winter, you will inevitably experience txirimiri. I spent a lot of time in that txirimiri, walking around the huge city of Bilbao as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, looking at lights, knocking on doors, talking with incredible people. Whether you are on your own, with a friend, or with someone you love, the best way to end a day out in the rain is to come home to some churros con chocolate, the most nostalgic, romantic treat to have. This treat is all over Spain, but I had a fair amount of churros con chocolate during my winter in Bilbao, so it of course reminds me of my beloved time there during late fall through the beginning of Spring. Christmas=Bilbao now for me, and the blue Christmas lights down Gran Via will be the hallmark of Christmas after you have walked along them. Rakel from Pineapple Islands gets me:
Her photos are gorgeous and I highly recommend you read her posts about Bilbao, including Best Pintxos in Bilbao and, most fitting, 10 Romantic Things To Do in Bilbao. Her articles are must-reads about Spain, Bilbao, and places all over the world.
LET’S TALK ABOUT churros and drinking chocolate. Every churro recipe I have found has been a French-style pate a choux, with eggs and butter. This is delicious for French patisserie, such as cream puffs and eclairs, but Spain doesn’t really have the same culinary philosophy as France; Spain is much more rustic. So when I found this recipe from Louise’s Bakery (ironically the French way to spell that name, haha), I found a recipe for churros that I felt was more of what traditional Spanish churros would be made of, simple and rustic: just water, olive oil, salt and flour. This is also a very sticky “shoe paste,” but a Spanish paste rather than French style, so I fell in love with this recipe and they can be made anytime because of the simple ingredients and method. Don’t get me wrong, French cuisine, and especially confection, is just mind-blowing, but I love the rusticity that Spain usually offers in their recipes.
The drinking chocolate is just as simple to make. Valor Chocolateria, of course, has to be mentioned when we talk about Spanish chocolate. They have been making chocolate since 1881 and visiting one of their chocolaterias will be the most amazing experience in Spain. They have EVERYTHING imaginable having to do with chocolate. They also serve churros con chocolate and they have huge fryers where they swirl the churro dough into a huge spiral, then once fried, they remove it from the oil and cut it up into batons. I tried to do the same spiral, but my pot is a little too small, but please, try it yourself if you have a large enough pot! Otherwise, the traditional shape is to make little loops. Then they’re served in baskets lined with paper to absorb the oil and there are sugar shakers on the tables with a coarse-grain cane/sanding-type sugar to sprinkle over your churros if you so desire.
Check out Pineapple Islands travel blog. Buenísimo.
A piping bag or churro maker is necessary for this recipe, Walmart started to carry Wilton disposable piping bags in their craft/baking/candy section. 4 bags for just a few bucks and you cut the size of the tip and select which shape of tip you want. Star shape is traditional for churros to help the center cook more evenly than just a round tip. Good job Walmart. Good job. Amazon also sells a bunch of Churro makers.
Use a good European-style chocolate for this recipe. For the love of all that is holy, do not use Hershey’s. I get the history of it, that’s rad, but just quit eating that crap (come on, we’re friends). SO, I recommend something like Dove or Ghiradelli for some good quality chocolate if you just can’t happen to find Valor or some other great European chocolate bar. As much as I love darker chocolates, like 60%+, this recipe is best with just common “dark” chocolate, or cut a 60 or 70% -er with a bit of good-quality milk chocolate, otherwise the chocolate just starts to taste too earthy without much flavor. So go for the dark Dove or Ghiradelli chocolate bar. Those are always a good thing.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great Spanish food: Sandee A @sandeea of her blogLa Receta de la Felicidad and book Chocolate (y sorteo!) (can be translated to English), Asun @recetashuga of her blog Las Mejores Recetas de Huga, Miriam of her blog El Invitado de Invierno, and Donostia Foods, Sonia of her blog L’Equisit, Laura and Eduardo of their blog Hola Foodie, Cristina of her blog Espía en la Cocina, Pecados de Reposteria, Mikel of Louis’s Bakery.
Churros con Chocolate
Rustic Spanish Churros
Adapted from Louis’s Bakery, serves 4-6, easily halved, heat-resistant dish gloves and piping bag/churro maker necessary, about 1 hour total.
3-4 cups water, divided
4 c flour
1 TBS olive oil
1.5 tsp salt, divided
Oil for frying, such as sunflower
Sugar for dusting/dipping, such as large grain cane sugar or granulated
- Bring 3 cups water, 1 tsp salt, and olive oil to a boil, then turn off heat, and add flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Once in a ball, dish out onto a clean counter or cutting board and knead with dish gloves on until dough is evenly mixed, it might take a few minutes. Place back into your pan, cover, and let rest 30 minutes.
- Move dough to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, or keep in the pot and using a potato masher, add about another ½- 1 cups water mixed with ½ tsp more salt, little by little. Mix/mash until like a thick cookie dough but soft enough to push through a piping bag. Immediately wash whatever your dough has touched so it doesn’t dry out!
- Heat oil to 350-375 degrees F. Add dough to a ½-¾” star-tipped piping bag for even cooking. Carefully pipe churros into the hot oil, a few at a time without crowding, into long batons or into traditional loops, minding the side of the hot pan not to melt the bag and making sure not to get the tip into the oil. Use a paring knife to cut the dough if necessary. Fry until they are cooked all the way through, dark golden brown, like the color of toffee. Drain on paper towels or cooling rack. Let cool enough to handle, then dust or dip in sugar if desired. Serve with Chocolate a la Taza. Wash everything your dough has touched!
Chocolate a la Taza (Spanish Drinking Chocolate)
Serves 2-4, easy fuss, about 5 minutes to make.
16 oz milk (whole milk is best, but if using almond/soy, use cornstarch option)
4 oz good dark chocolate bar, such as Dove or Ghiradelli*
1.5 tsp white rice flour/starch OR 1 tsp cornstarch mixed in 1.5 tsp cold milk (you can +/- thickness)
*(in a pinch, 1 TBS choc chips can be substituted for every 1 oz of chocolate bar, but not optimal)
- Add the milk and chocolate to a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a whisk until melted and smooth. Add rice flour or cornstarch slurry and whisk in. Simmer, until it starts to thicken, about 1-2 minutes, stirring continually. Pour into a teapot or something with a little spout. Serve into teacups or mugs. Will thicken as it cools. Great for drinking or dipping. Serve with Churros.