Churros & Chocolate Sauce
In these dark days, it's good to enjoy the occasional 'pick me up'. Originating in Spain & Portugal churros are just the thing - light, fluffy fingers of choux pastry, deep fried (I did say occasional!) rolled in cinnamon sugar & dipped in chocolate sauce. I remember our girls ordering them from a stall in the Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées. They were served in an enormous, striped cardboard cone with an integral 'mini cone' containing the chocolate sauce - the perfect treat for eating outside on a cold winter's evening.
100 g unsalted butter, diced
300 ml water
Pinch of sea salt
130 g plain flour, sifted
2 large (preferably organic) eggs, beaten
Sunflower oil for deep frying
100 g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
200 g mixed dark & milk chocolate, chopped
100 ml double cream
100 ml whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Measure the butter & water into a saucepan over a medium heat. When the butter has melted & the water begins to boil remove from the heat & add the flour & salt. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth & comes away Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the beaten eggs a little at a time. Beat well between each addition until the mixture becomes thick & glossy. Cover the bowl & leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes.
While the batter is resting, make the chocolate sauce - simply heat the cream & milk then add the chocolate & vanilla extract. Stir until the chocolate has melted & completely combined with the cream. Pour into a serving jug & set aside.
Mix the caster sugar & cinnamon in a bowl & then tip onto a plate in readiness for dusting the churros.
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan (the oil is hot enough when a cube of bread turns golden brown). Fit a 1 cm star nozzle into a piping bag & fill with the batter. When the oil is hot enough squeeze lengths of dough (say 12 cm or whatever length you prefer) directly into the oil (for ease, cut the dough with scissors at the base of the nozzle). Don't overcrowd the pan or your churros will be stodgy & oily.
Deep-fry until golden brown. Remove from the oil & drain on kitchen paper. Test one to see if it's cooked - it should be light & fluffy in the centre & crisp on the outside. Dust with the sugar & cinnamon mix. Serve straight away with the chocolate sauce for dipping. The perfect accompaniment to a cup of good coffee. Enjoy!