Monday, May 12, 2014

Anna Sultana’s Churros with a chocolate sauce and caramel (Doughnuts for Cinco de Mayo)


I recently posted two recipes for Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday, which is on May 5.
Alfajores are Spanish sandwich cookies, similar to Maltese Figolli.
Yes, they do take a bit of work.
Ma’s Coconut Almond Snacks recipe is easier.

I got an e mail about another Cinco de Mayo dessert: churros

They are long, thin doughnuts served with a caramel custard, called Cajeta and a chocolate sauce called ganache.
We’re not talking an easy dessert.
But it is delicious and impressive.
And they could be just the thing to top off a party meal.


If you want to make an easier type of doughnut, you could also make St. Joseph's Day Zeppole, also known as Sfingi.
Sfingi has a lot of Mediterranean mojo attached to it.
As Carmela explained: 
If it is not St. Joseph's Day, you can just shake these, without the filling, 
in a bag with cinnamon sugar and serve them like donuts.

You've been warned.

Hints:

When you add the baking soda it will become bubbly.  That’s okay.
The longer you cook the Cajeta mixture, the thicker it will become, and the more intense the caramel flavour will be. Once it cools it will become even thicker.
If it’s too thick for your liking, stir in a bit of hot water. 
If it’s too thin, return it to the heat until it thickens.
As in the Alfajores you could use sweetened condensed milk.


If you don't have a deep-frying thermometer, test the oil by slipping a bit of the dough into the oil.  It should sizzle and turn brown in 1 minute.

Don't crowd or they will stick together and won't fry properly.
Be careful that it doesn’t splash.


                        Churros

For the Caramel (Cajeta)

In a heavy-bottomed pot combine
4 Cups milk 
1 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Place over medium heat.

In a small cup combine
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
2 teaspoons water

Cook the milk / sugar mixture, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the dissolved baking soda.
When the bubbling stops, return the pot to a low heat and simmer.
Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and darkens, 1 – 2 hours. 
Once it has reached the desired thickness, remove it from the heat.
Allow it to cool completely. 
When the cajeta is completely cooled, transfer sauce to a resealable jar. 
Refrigerate if not using immediately, then warm up when you’re ready to serve it.

For the Chocolate Sauce (Ganache)
Place in a heat-proof bowl 
1/2 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Set aside.

Place in a medium pot
1/2 Cup whipping cream
Over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a boil. 
When it reaches a boil, remove it from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. 
Stir until all of the chocolate chips have melted and the ganache is smooth.
Serve warm with churros for dipping.
Or keep stored in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to 4 days.

For the Churros

On a baking sheet combine
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Cup sugar
Set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine
1/2 Cup unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
Stir together over medium heat until the mixture reaches a boil.
Reduce the heat to low.
Add all at once
1 Cup flour
Stir well until the flour is completely mixed in.
Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, until the dough
begins to leave a thin film on the bottom of the pan.
(Don’t rush this - you want the dough to dry so the doughnuts will crisp.)
Remove from the heat.
With an electric mixer or wooden spoon, beat in
ONE AT A TIME
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Continue to beat until smooth and shiny, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. 
Set aside.

In a deep saucepan or deep fryer pour
about 2 inches vegetable oil
Heat to 350ºF on a deep-fry thermometer or test with dough.

When the oil is heated, pipe 4 to 8-inch segments of dough into the hot oil, using scissors to cut the dough after piping. 
Use tongs to keep them from touching each other. 
Fry the dough for 5 – 7 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the churros with a slotted spoon.
Drain on paper towels.
Toss in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Repeat with the remaining dough.

Serve the churros warm with cajeta and chocolate ganache for dipping.
Churros are best served the day they are made.

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