What are churros?
The irresistibly sweet and crispy snack, churro (pronounced: “CHEU-ro”) is a deep-fried pastry treat in the form of sticks, curls or spirals. Churros are a bit like doughnuts, though they are more crispy. The dough stripes get their characteristic shape because the dough is piped straight into the hot oil via a container or piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle. Churros are eaten as they are, dipped in hot chocolate or rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Chocolate con churros, the version with a cup of hot, thick drinking chocolate to dip in, is a popular breakfast in Spain, a typical fairground snack and a substitute for a doner kebab after a night out. However, there are many other occasions for a churro; the Spanish also like to eat them for la merienda: the afternoon snack between la comida (the warm afternoon meal) and their late evening meal. Churros are sold in cafes, in churros, or chocolate bars and on the street.
Some say that the churro is named after a Spanish sheep, the churra, whose horns have the same typical rib shape as a churro. However, there are also rumours that Portuguese seafarers discovered the churro in China, where it is still eaten as a breakfast dish under the name youtiao.
One thing we do know: the Spaniards introduced the churro to Latin America, where people quickly fell in love with the sweet snack. There are now many unique varieties across the Atlantic, including churros filled with guava in Cuba, with dulce de leche in Mexico and with cheese in Uruguay. In the southern states of the USA, churros are available everywhere. In Disneyland alone, 2.8 million churros are sold every year!
Did you know...
Spanish explorers brought cocoa beans back to Europe in the sixteenth century. Just like the Aztecs and Mayans, the Spaniards made a hot drink out of it, but they then kept their hot chocolate a secret for a century! Only in the sixteenth century did “drinking chocolate” become all the rage in the rest of Europe.
How to make churros
First, the chef makes choux pastry, from wheat flour, baking powder, hot water, oil, salt and sugar. The hot dough is immediately transferred to a churrera or a piping bag. Stripes, curls or spirals of dough are piped directly into hot frying oil and snipped to the correct length with scissors. After a few minutes, the churros are nicely brown, crispy and cooked.
Sometimes the strands are first rolled in cinnamon sugar, sometimes they are served with thick, hot drinking chocolate, or both.
How to eat
With your fingers. It’s the only way.
Café con leche (wrong coffee) is Spain’s favourite breakfast drink and delicious with your portion of churros.
In India, people love fried dough in the form of gulab jamun: balls of dough topped with a sugar syrup flavoured with rose water.