Earlier this year, as part of the first Abu Dhabi food festival, the Plaza of the Corniche was dotted with a bevy of food trucks. There was a nip in the air and we walked the grounds with Ali in his faux fur lined beanie cap. A little over a year old, the bustling crowds, live music and the string lights were all stimulus that he soaked in wide eyed. Amidst the trucks serving lamb raan curry wraps and grilled cheese, a line had formed that was getting longer by the minute. On my tip toes, I saw the source at end was the Churros truck. It was an hour after we had reached and Ali was beginning to squirm and whimper with restlessness, his cheeks, pink flushed, from the cool breeze. Within ten minutes, we were headed back to the car with a flustered-ready-to-wail Ali sans Churros.
Churros was the forbidden fruit that had fogged my mind and I was rambling about it after Ali had slept that night. The following day the Street Feast was coming to an and being a Friday, making a trip to the Corniche after Juma’ah prayer would mean forsaking the little one's afternoon siesta. I stepped out after putting Ali down for a nap and I found my husband waiting to surprise me with Churros in his hand. He had slipt out braving the Shamal sandstorm and supposedly longer queues than last night possibly to stop me from rambling more about it.
Soggy exterior. Chocolate sauce watered down to a limp reduction. That was the reality of the churros. What made it a delight was it was one more on the endless list of things he does to make me smile. We spoke about visiting Spain and having Churros from vendors off the street for breakfast. I’ll stick to Hot chocolate and he could try cafe con leche. With plans of an unknown impending Spanish holiday, I felt the need to redeem the experience in my own kitchen.
Fried dough and melted chocolate was a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, I had recently shot a Sticky Toffee Pudding for a client. It’s a dessert that tugs at my heartstrings considering that it was the first post I published on my blog. I spent a few hours editing the photos of her Toffee sauce alone and have been wanting to bake it once again. That didn’t quite happen. The day I was thinking of frying Churros I had the usual dilemma of what variation I would make for the in-laws. Chocolate is not something they fancy and this challenge has more than often inspired a few interesting dessert ideas. I’ll have to credit Sticky Toffee Churros to the same challenge. A wonderful alternative to dipping Churros in molten chili chocolate is warm, buttery toffee sauce.
I chopped a handful of Sokari dates and steeped it in boiling water with a pinch of Soda bicarbonate. I pureed it and added it to my Churro batter. Mind you, the preparation of the batter is a mini workout in itself. Water and flour need to combine properly into a smooth, lump-free dough. I added my the pureed dates directly into half the batter that was ready to fry. Frying also requires a bit of patience. The temperature of the oil is vital to a crunchy shell that reveals an almost cake-y like centre. Too hot and you risk having an undercooked centre and a dark exterior. Not hot enough and the Churros might end up sans their trademark crispiness. As with all frying methods, I’d suggest a few test runs of not too long Churros to ensure the temperature is just right.
I deliberately had to shorten the length of my Churros as my star tip was larger than what is used. I realised my error only while I was testing the oil and just continued anyway. In comparison, the Date Churros were not *as* crisp as the classic version. Upsetting the dry liquid ratio might be responsible. However, all is forgotten once they're dunked in said toffee sauce below.
I may have overdone the sugar dousing bit. I tend to take things a bit too far when Cinnamon is involved. I had made a bottle of Vanilla sugar repurposing used beans and have let it sit around for weeks unopened waiting for the right occasion. I added Cinnamon to this sugar and had my Churros rolling in the deep. As you can see its more sugar overload for every indentation rather than a light dusting. It’s the Cinnamon honestly. In my world, way too much Cinnamon is not an option.
Surprise surprise. He actually preferred the Toffee sauce over the chocolate. I do think it is because my dark chocolate stash was close to nothing for melting and I had to use semi-sweet chocolate chips. I have to warn you they are quite heavy on the stomach too. 2 or more and it feels like you’ve gone through a massive slice of cake. Regardless, now that the winter we are used to in the part of the world (20 degrees Celsius is brrr cold) this is a recipe right for the weather.
See you on the other side of 2016. A lot of changes headed my way and hoping my blogging pace picks up now the little one is a bit older. Happy holidays everyone!
Sticky Toffee Churros
Churro Recipe adapted from Saveur.com.
Toffee sauce recipe by Jamie Oliver
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 ¼ cups flour
- 1 egg
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 10 medium dates, pitted and chopped
- ¼ tsp soda bicarbonate
- Canola oil, for frying
- 60 g unsalted butter
- 60 g sugar
- 70 ml heavy cream
- ½ cup 70% or higher dark chocolate
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder
- Bring butter, salt, vanilla, cinnamon stick, and 2 ¼ cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Remove from heat and discard cinnamon. stick and add flour; cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a smooth dough forms, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a bowl, and add egg; stir vigorously until dough is smooth.
- Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with 3⁄8" star tip and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine sugar and ground cinnamon in a flat plate or baking dish and set aside.
- Pour oil to a depth of 2" in an deep saucepan heat over medium-high heat.
- Working in batches, hold piping bag above oil, and pipe about four 6″ lengths of dough.
- Fry, turning often, until golden brown, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, and then transfer dish with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Quickly shake or roll until evenly coated.
- Repeat with remaining dough in piping bag.
- Soak prepared dates with soda bicarbonate in boiling hot water just enough to cover the dates.
- Let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Puree the dates to a fine paste and add it to prepare churro batter.
- Mix rigorously to ensure even distribution.
- Place butter, sugar and cream in a low pan over low heat.
- Stir until sugar has dissolved and the sauce has thickened.
- The sauce should darken to a deep golden color.
- Be careful not to overcook otherwise the sauce will have a burnt flavor.
- Heat cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Once it begins to simmer (bubbles forming around the edges), add chocolate and chilli powder.
- Stir slowly until chocolate is melted and everything is combined.
Have a good food day!