I am a procrastinator. It is possibly my worst quality, but one that I haven’t bothered to change because, quite frankly, it works pretty well for me most of the time. In school, some of my best papers were written the night before the paper was due. On the rare instances where I started work on an essay early, I would usually scrap the entire thing the evening before the due date and start fresh. This led me to believe that procrastination leads to inspiration.
“I work better under pressure,” I often tell myself (and others). And while I’m waiting for the pressure/inspiration to strike, I get to do all the fun things I want to do, like catch up on my DVR queue and go to brunch and decorate my new office.
But then there are moments when the harsh reality of procrastination comes crashing down around me, as was the case with these churros. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is totally sound. But the entire production was absolute chaos. My first thought as I scanned the room when all the churros had been fried was “This kitchen will never be clean again. Ever.” And I’m fairly certain this could have been avoided if I had planned a little in advance, rather than just jumping in on Sunday morning.
I also didn’t plan well for the photos. I had a vague idea that I wanted to use these sweet retro glasses I got at the Columbus Summer Flea a few months back, that parchment paper cones would fit perfectly inside, and that my straight-as-an-arrow churros would just gently rest in there and fan out. A desperate fantasy, I soon realized.
Traditionally, models are stick straight and skinny. But in the world of food photography, thin is not in. I need some food with some curves. A plum with a badonkadonk. A fat slice of pie. These churros do not fit that bill. And since I procrastinated, I didn’t have time for another casting call, or even a new set design. This yellow bowl for the chocolate sauce? Gross.
The good news is, despite all the chaos caused by my procrastination, I still walked away with an awesome, greasy bag of churros, which I took shared with my family while we played Bolivia, which my mom railed against for being a socialist card game. And the good news for you is that you get this recipe, despite the whack-attack photos. I’m not saying I’m a genius or anything, but substituting coconut milk for heavy cream in the dipping sauce? I a little bit love me.
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1½ cups water
- ¾ cup (185 grams) pure pumpkin puree
- 10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3-4 cups vegetable, canola, or peanut oil, for frying
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1⅓ cup (227 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
- Whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon cloves, ¼ teaspoon ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine water, pumpkin puree, butter, vanilla extract, and coconut extract, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
- Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until each egg is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next. The dough will be thick, so it will take some muscle to stir it. When all the eggs are added and the dough is smooth, spoon the dough into a 14- or 16-inch pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Combine sugar and remaining spices in a square baking pan and set aside.
- Heat about 2-inches of oil in a large saute pan or a wok to 350°F. (I used our cheapo wok and about 4 cups of oil.) Rest a food, fry, or candy thermometer in the oil to monitor the temperature. When the oil is heated, pipe a long strand of dough from the piping bag with one hand and snip off the end with scissors using your other hand. The dough will immediately start to curl in the oil. If you want straighter churros, use metal tongs to gently guide the dough into a straight line during those first few moments in the oil.
- Pipe three more churros into the oil so that you can cook four at a time. Continue frying for 6-7 minutes, gently flipping the churros over halfway through and adjusting the heat on your stove throughout so that the temperature lingers roughly around 350°. The churros should be dark brown, but not burnt-looking, when they are finished.
- Use your tongs to remove the cooked churros to a paper towel lined baking sheet for a few seconds to drain off some of the oil. Transfer them to the baking pan with the sugar and spice mixture and sprinkle and toss them around until they are covered, shaking off any excess sugar. Place finished churros on a plate, and continue cooking the rest of the dough in this way.
- When all churros are completed, bring coconut milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl, then pour hot coconut milk over the chocolate chips. Let it rest for a minute, then whisk the chocolate and coconut milk together until smooth. Whisk in coconut extract, if desired. Pour into a small bowl, and serve with the churros. Any extra chocolate sauce can be refrigerated and reheated for topping other desserts, like ice cream!
- Coconut extract is optional, but enhances the flavor in the chocolate coconut sauce. I also used a tiny bit in the churro dough to tie the flavors together, but it can be excluded.