Churros y Chocolate

Churros y Chocolate
Excerpted from Hot Drinks for Cold Nights: Great Hot Chocolates, Tasty Teas & Cozy Coffee Drinks by Liana Krissoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005). Copyright 2005 by Liana Krissoff. Used with permission of the publisher.

I was recently browsing through a delightful little book titled Hot Drinks for Cold Nights: Great Hot Chocolates, Tasty Teas & Cozy Coffee Drinks by Liana Krissoff (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2005).

Among the many unusual and warming drink recipes is this outrageous concoction of Spanish hot chocolate that could serve as dessert, if you're more likely snoozing than sipping at nightcap at 4:00 a.m. Be warned: this chocolate is very rich. Serve it in demitasse cups or something similar in size. The churros are a delicious gilding of the lily if you choose to indulge.

Serves 4 to 6

Madrid's answer to Paris's late-night bowl of French onion soup is this thick, very rich chocolate, into which sugary fried churros are to be dipped.

1/2 cup pure unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Churros (recipe follows), optional
In a 2-quart nonstick saucepan, whisk together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and 1/2 cup water until smooth. Whisk in the milk, place over medium-low heat, and bring just to a slow simmer; simmer for about 2 minutes, whisking frequently, until the chocolate is thick and glossy and smooth, like a runny pudding. Add the vanilla, whisk again, then remove from the heat and pour into small cups. Serve immediately with churros for dipping.

Churros

Makes 16 to 20

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar, plus 1/4 cup for dusting
Pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
3 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Put 1 cup water, the butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the salt in a 2-quart saucepan and place over medium-high heat; cook, stirring to combine, until the butter is melted and the water is foaming up in the pan. Remove from the heat and immediately add the flour all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball. One at a time, add the eggs, stirring vigorously until the dough is shaggy and each egg has been completely combined before adding the next egg.

2. Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 375 F.

3. Put the dough in a heavy-duty (cloth) pastry bag fitted with a #849 closed star tip (about 1-3/8 inches wide at the base). Using one hand to squeeze the pastry bag and the other hand to cut the dough off at the end with a butter knife, carefully pipe 2- to 3-inch lengths of dough into the hot oil, a few at a time. Use tongs to turn the churros constantly so that they cook evenly. When they are deep brown all over, in 2 to 2-1/2 minutes, remove the churros with the tongs and place them on several layers of paper bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining dough. Toss the hot churros with the 1/4 cup sugar to coat thoroughly, then serve warm.