I have happy memories of Churros.
When I lived in Bolivia for three years in the nineties, my mom and her friend from childhood (whose name is Elisabeth, but whom we only call “Niña”) decided to engage in some swapping of children. It began when Alejandro, Nina’s eldest, came to stay with us for a month and attended classes with me at the German School in La Paz. From then on, my brother and I would visit Santa Cruz and spend a few carefree weeks in the company of kids our age, living through all sorts of adventures, all of which took place outside, because Santa Cruz is a tropical city, where you’ll find warm weather any time of year. I remember witnessing Bolivia win soccer matches and qualifying for the world cup, standing on the street corner in the old center of Santa Cruz, where the Del Rio family lived back then, waving the Bolivian flag and cheering on the people passing by in their cars, who would holler and honk loudly at us. Sometimes, we’d also set up little skits and shows, put on make-up and each other’s clothes and then perform everything for a crowd consisting of everyone’s parents (minus mine), plus Moira’s, Mariella’s and Alejandro’s grandmothers, Doña Angelita and Doña Yola, who lived across the quad. Everyone would clap and cheers, and the show would go on for hours. We were truly happy then.
I also remember cooking and baking a lot with Tati, a Chilean relative of the family, who also lived in their house at the time, and learning about egg-whites and whipping cream refusing to rise, “if you look at it too sharply”. I remember busy afternoons right by the pool of Mindy’s house, who was away, and who had asked Niña to visit occasionally to check up if everything was okay. I remember eating Churros for the very first time, when Moira, who is just a few months older than me and now marries with two children of her own, made them the first time around. I remember her making the batter and then carefully frying up her Churros. I have no recollection of actually eating them, but since then the idea of Churros has always been tied to Moira for me.
Don’t know Churros? They’re a Spanish dessert, pieces of batter fried in lots of hot oil until they are really crispy, served still hot with either a cinnamony sugar or a dark chocolate sauce.
Churros are not a food that I would have ever considered making at home, occasionally ordering them at restaurants and then devouring half of the portion, always sharing with my husband. The last couple of winters, we would go to the Christmas Market at Neumarkt, here in Cologne, and find the Churros stand and share, waiting in awe as the vendor would fry the pieces of batter up in his gigantic churro maker. After going gluten-free, the options of having churros went from very few to none. However, Churros were not high on my list of priorities of replicating in a gluten-free version, but after holding out for two winters and finding no external source of churros anywhere, I caved and made these for the Holiday Feast. Everyone enjoyed them quite a bit, I kept joking that I would make a second, eggless, batch in the morning. But my father-in-law, who kindly did almost all of our dishes, would have probably reconsidered his opinion of me, had I done this. Also, I was never serious, but next time, I will give these a go without any egg and see if they are even crispier.
I bought a cookie/churros-maker specifically for this purpose. You can use a pastry bag, however, if you like. I consider the starry pattern of your pastry bag end quite important to the delicacy that are churros, so don’t skimp on this detail!
Ingredients (for four portions):
one cup of water
one cup of gluten-free flour (I used half Schaer Farine and half Harina de Reposteria by AdPan)
1 tbsp butter (for a vegan option use margarine)
2 eggs (I used medium ones, omit for a vegan version)
a pinch of salt
1 litre vegetable oil (for frying)
cinnamony sugar or hot chocolate sauce (for garnish)
Bring the cup of water and the pinch of salt to a boil. Add the butter and wait until it has melted. Add the gluten-free flour and stir into an even batter. Turn off the stove and allow the batter to cool. Add the two eggs and stir until the batter is lump-free. Heat the litre of vegetable oil in a pot. Once the oil is hot, fill the batter into a churro-maker or pastry bag and squeeze the batter into the hot oil. It will curl into a shape similar to a snailhouse, use a fork to separate the different strands. Once the churros have been roasted on one side, turn them over and finish frying. Remove Churro from pot, and allow to drain of fat on a kitchen towel. Repeat with the remainder of the batter until it is used up. Then, cut the large Churro into smaller sticks, sprinkle with a mix of two parts sugar and one part cinnamon or serve a long a shot glass filled with hot chocolate sauce.