This a tale of two foods. Churros and Mexican chocolate.
Churros – There are rumors abound as to where Churros originated from. Some say they were the invention of nomadic Spanish shepherds. Living high in the mountains with no access to bakeries, the Spanish shepherds supposedly created churros as they were easy to cook in frying pans over fire. Lending credibility to this version of history is the fact that there exists a breed of sheep called the “Navajo-Churro”, which are descended from the “Churra” sheep of the Iberian Peninsula; the horns of these sheep look similar to the fried pastry.
Another story tells of Portuguese sailors discovering a similar food in Northern China called “You Tiao” and returned home with them. The Spanish learned of the new culinary treat from their neighbors, and put their own spin on it by passing the dough through a star-shaped tip which gives the churro its signature ridges. Whether Spanish shepherds, Portuguese sailors, or Chinese cooks get the credit for inventing the churro, it was the conquistadors who introduced them to Latin America.
Mexican Chocolate – Whereas the Spanish introduced churros to Mexico, it was the Mexicans who introduced chocolate to Spain, then Italy, then Europe and ultimately the rest of the world. The chocolate of yore bares little resemblance to todays sweet and creamy confections.
Chocolate comes from the cocoa plant that’s run rampant throughout Mexico for centuries. The native communities like the Olmecas, Mayans, and Aztecs used to use it to make a dark cocoa beverages spiced with chiles, flavored with flowers, and colored with seeds. In pre-Hispanic times, hot chocolate was a ritualistic drink reserved for royalty and was made from ground cocoa bean mixed with vanilla beans, water, and warmed. The Aztecs seasoned their hot chocolate with chile. With the Spanish colonists eventual introduction of cinnamon and sugar to the Mexicans, Mexican chocolate evolved into today’s Mexican chocolate tabs.
When the Spaniard first came back to Spain, this chocolate was considered bitter and plebeian and didn’t take until other European countries began to mix it with milk and sugar to create a confection more palpable to western tastes.
Now, combine churros with a bowl of warm spiced Mexican chocolate and you can have the best of both worlds in a single dish.
Churros con Salsa de Chocolate – Fried Dough Sticks with Chocolate Sauce
- Pastry bag with large star tip
- Stand or hand mixer.
- Medium saucepan
- Baking sheet
- ½ cup Unsalted butter
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- 3 large Eggs
- 3 tsp Vanilla extract
- ½ cup Granulated sugar
- 2¼ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ cup Heavy cream
- ½ tsp Ancho chile powder or cayenne pepper
- ¾ cup Mexican chocolate (see Notes)
- 3 tbsp Melted butter (or cooking spray)
- Make Dough – In an medium saucepan, combine water, ½ cup butter, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir flour into the bowl of stand mixer or leave in saucepan if using a hand mixer. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Mixture will resemble mashed potatoes. Beat mixture with mixer on low, adding one egg at a time until combined. Repeat with remaining eggs. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix on high for a few seconds.
- Prepare Churros – Preheat oven to 350 °F (177°C). Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Lightly spray or grease a cookie sheet. Pipe 6-inch long rows of dough with 1-inch between each. Bake for 20-25 minutes until outsides golden brown and crispy. Roll in cinnamon sugar.
- Serve – Unlike revenge, Churros are a dish served warm. Make chocolate sauce while Churros are baking. Serve Churros in same shallow baking dish with bowl or bowls of chocolate sauce for dipping.
Mexican Chocolate Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium low heat until it's just beginning to bubble. At the same time, combine chocolate, chili powder, ½ tsp vanilla, and ¼ tsp cinnamon in a medium bowl. Pour heated cream into the bowl and let it sit for 1 minute. Once its melted and cooled slightly, whisk until smooth.
- Mix together ½ cup sugar with 1½ tsp cinnamon in a small bowl
- Churros without cinnamon sugar can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator or indefinitely in the freezer. Once warmed, coat with cinnamon sugar before serving.
- Mexican chocolate comes in 3 oz tablets and has a very unique flavor. It can be found in many supermarkets and online. Some good brands are Ibarra, Abuelita, Taza, or Rey Amargo.