dip / sauce Mexican

Mini Cinnamon Churros (Mexican Breadsticks) with Trio Dipping Sauces

Friday, June 20, 2014Enz F

Known to the world as the home of burritos, enchiladas, nachos, quesadillas and tacos, Mexico’s gastronomic roots is as diverse as the multicultural influences that honed the predominantly Spanish-speaking country's dishes into what we can consider today an epitome of great food. Mexican cuisine is truly an amalgamation of colors, flavors and spices. It is a fusion of its Aztec pride that was greatly sophisticated by the Spanish conquistadores, briefly glamorized by the French settlers and partially stimulated by the aromatic elements of African, Chinese and Indian spices owing to the early barter system. Some Filipino flair also dropped a little hue to the kaleidoscopic Mexican platter looking back to the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. Being colonies of the Spain on the same era during the 16th century that lasted for almost 300 years, we cannot deny the many similarities in Mexican and Filipino cuisines. It is very evident in our afritada, menudo, mechado, chorizo and arroz dishes that have both Mexican and Filipino variations which undoubtedly have Spanish origin. Those mentioned are considered special dishes in the Philippines during important occasions and fiestas – popular festivities in the form of banderitas (little banners), makeshift feria (little carnivals) and banda (drum and bugle corps), prominent traditions that we inherited from our Spanish forefathers.


Churro is derived from the word churra, a type of sheep with horns resembling its shape.
Once I had a walk inside a popular wholesale grocery store in Taguig, Metro Manila that houses self-service fast food lanes where shoppers could get a quick snack of their New York style pizzas, American burgers and hotdogs, and a variety of French pastries. I easily drew my attention to those long-stick breads standing on the shelf, quite similar to French baguettes but only thinner in shape with sugary texture appearance and ridges formed on the surface. Later on I found out that those lovely treats teasing before my eyes were actually the popular Mexican/ Spanish bread dessert known as Churros, which eventually, are the Spanish counterpart of doughnuts. There are disparities whether churro originated from Spain or Portugal but its name is more suggestive of Spanish origin, which was derived from the word "churra" – a type of sheep with horns similar to the shape of churro bread. It is believed that Spanish shepherds who used to pasture churra sheep on high mountains were the first makers of churros.
This is my first fun attempt to make churros!
These delectable desserts popularly served not only in the churreria (churro pastry shops) of Mexico but also in Spain and other Latin American countries are made from the mixture of flour, water, butter and salt usually shaped into long strips or spirals using a pastry bag with a star-nozzle tip. They are deep-fried to golden-brown in a huge cauldron of cooking oil and coated with generous amount of sugar-cinnamon dusting. The key to a good churro is the well maintained temperature during frying so as to achieve a perfect texture which must be crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. For a more enjoyable breakfast, anytime of the day snack or even street food experience, they are usually dipped in hot chocolate sauce. Other variations are filled with various sweet or savory fillings like spicy chocolate, dulce de leche, vanilla custard, lemon and fruit jams or melted cheese. Churrisimo, a jumbo-sized churro with wider diameter has also become popular to accommodate the fillings. In the Philippines, churros are oftentimes served on specialty bakeshops or cafes to accompany a cup of latte or hot chocolate drink.

I attempted to make my first churros at home. The first batch I made lacked the signature ridges on the sides of the bread as I forgot to use a suitable star-shape nozzle for my piping bag but it was still wonderfully tasty that it never lasted a minute on the serving plate. I used a medium-sized star tip for my next batch and it turned out just perfectly fine for me. 



Of the three dipping sauces, butterscotch turned out to be my personal favorite.
I prepared three kinds of dipping sauce to accompany my churros Spicy Chocolate, Butterscotch and Orange-Mango Sauce. Among the three dipping sauces, butterscotch sauce turned out a personal favorite. Its slight saltiness complemented very well with the sweetness of the cinnamon-sugar coating. The spicy chocolate is quite a surprise and best served while it is still warm. On the other hand, the orange-mango sauce never failed to amuse our palate with its refreshing tang. All the preparation and cooking were quite a tedious task specially for the first-timers like me but it became more enjoyable as I get used to it, simply holding on to the thought of a rewarding treat after all the sweat.
Mini Cinnamon Churros (Mexican Breadsticks) with Trio Dipping Sauces

INGREDIENTS:
For the churros
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsps. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 L cooking oil, for deep frying
For the dusting
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon powder
For the butterscotch sauce
  • 150 mL condensed milk
  • 120 mL all purpose cream
  • 4 tbsps. brown sugar
  • 4 tbsps. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
For the spicy chocolate sauce
  • 150 mL condensed milk
  • 120 mL all purpose cream
  • 4 tbsps. cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsps. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. cayenne powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsps. butter
For the mango-orange sauce
  • 2 pcs. large ripe mangoes
  • 1 pc. orange
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tbsps. butter
  • 2 tbsps. granulated sugar

PROCEDURE:
For the churros
  1. Sift the flour and cinnamon powder in a bowl. Mix and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine water, granulated sugar, salt, vegetable oil and butter. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Remove the saucepan from heat and then add the flour mixture all at once. Briskly beat with a wooden spoon to combine and remove the lumps. Continue mixing for about 1-2 minutes until it forms into a ball. The dough should be as firm as it could pull together in the middle of the pan. If it appears too loose or shaggy, add a little more flour.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract (optional). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool a bit for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition to thoroughly combine. Once all the eggs are added, the mixture should smoothen out.
  6. Spoon the churro dough into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized star tip. Keep the bag airtight and check if the dough will pipe well.
  7. Put enough oil to a deep skillet or saucepan to reach a depth of at least two inches. Heat to 350ºF (175ºC) over medium heat. Maintain the temperature by occasionally checking it using a candy thermometer.
  8. While heating up the oil, prepare the workstations. Line a plate with several layers of paper towel and prepare the dusting by mixing the sugar and cinnamon powder on a separate plate.
  9. Once the oil reached the required temperature, hold the piping bag in a vertical position with the tip five inches above the pan and begin squeezing so that the churro dough comes out like a long dangling line. When the dough strip is about four inches long, snip it to the mouth of the piping tip with greased scissors and carefully drop the churro in oil. Do it cautiously as the oil may splatter on to your hand. You may dip the scissors in oil to straighten the churro if begin to curve.
  10. Work on several batches with four to six 4-inch strips per batch. Do not overcrowd the pan as the temperature may lower down.
  11. Fry for 2-3 minutes each batch, occasionally turning the sides until the churros are golden brown and crispy.
  12. Remove the cooked churros from the pan and transfer on a plate lined with paper towel to drain the oil. Quickly move them to the cinnamon-sugar mixture and gently toss until thoroughly coated. Repeat from step 9 until all the dough is used up.
  13. Serve the churros with the prepared dipping sauces. Enjoy!
For the butterscotch sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low to medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, salt, all purpose cream and condensed milk. Stir the mixture until well-blended. Bring to a boil.
  3. Set the heat to simmer, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to avoid the sugar from sticking. Cook for around 10 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract (optional). Adjust the salt if necessary. Transfer into a container and allow to cool at room temperature.
For the spicy chocolate sauce
  1. In a saucepan, combine the all purpose cream and condensed milk. Bring to a low simmer.
  2. Stir in the cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Mix until well blended.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and cayenne powder. Transfer into a container and best served while warm.
For the mango-orange sauce
  1. Remove the peelings and seed of the mangoes and cut into small cubes. Peel the oranges and remove the cavities and seeds, leaving only the pulps.
  2. Place the sliced mangoes and orange pulp in a blender or food processor. Pulse the processor to puree the fruits until smooth. Pour the liquid in a sieve to filter the puree.
  3. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the mango-orange puree and sugar. Allow to simmer over medium heat, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan. Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Add the orange zest and cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer in a container and serve at room temperature or chilled.

TIPS FROM ENZ:
  1. Consume the churros immediately as it is best eaten while fresh and crispy.
  2. Add some water or evaporated milk on chocolate sauce if it begins to become very thick. You can use any type of chili powder and adjust the amount according to your desired spiciness.

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