Think of the best dessert you’ve ever tasted. Sit with that taste for a moment, thinking of the texture, flavor, temperature and atmosphere where you first consumed said dish. Now, double that goodness. That is what it’s like to eat a churro in Spain. Before we took our trip to Spain (you can read my recap of our two week long adventure here)
It was in Madrid that we discovered the famous Churros con Chocolate at Chocolateria San Gines. This place served one thing churros and dipping chocolate. I am not one with a sweet tooth, I’d much rather have a cheese plate and another glass of wine to finish off a night, but even I had to admit that they were delicious freaking churros!
Churros are traditionally served with cup of very thick but not too sweet chocolate to dip the churros in. As there is usually more chocolate the churro, the locals would all drink the remaining chocolate in the mug. While we stood in the long line, waiting for our chance at our own order of this delicious crispy and chocolate heaven, we observed how the locals were “doing it” and were a little grossed out when we saw them drink the chocolate. But, their chocolate isn’t like American chocolate. It wasn’t obsessively sweet or rich in a sugary way. It was a much more european take on traditional chocolate that was actually quite delightful even to a chocolate averse gal such as myself.
While doing some weekend reading around Easter, yes that holiday that was monthly ago, the mister came across a recipe in Seattle Times and put it on the “to make” request list. Since I’m not a big dessert person and this recipe looked like it would take some effort we put it on the backburner. For our first official gathering we hosted at our new place after moving a month ago, we invited two of his friends and one of their girlfriends over and the thought stuck… I’ll have three HUNGRY men and two gals and our theme is taco night. The only logical next thought was FRENCH TOAST CHURROS!!!! So, I dug up the recipe and call ahead to one of our local bakeries, Macrina Bakery, and reserved two loaves of challah bread!
The original recipe calls for serving these delectable treats with a Sherry Caramel Sauce (which you can find in the original recipe link below) but we opted for vanilla bean ice cream.
I won’t lie, this recipe was a little bit of work but it was delicious! Gooey in all the right places, crispy on the edges, and much more satisfying in smaller portions that anticipated, it was a hit! In hing sigh, we barely used 1/3 loaf of the challah since the had such a good blend of rich flavors so I would only get one loaf next time, and a much smaller one at that! The amazing local shop where we get all our spices, Market Spice in Pike Place Market, had the aniseed and any local liquor store should have the anisette which is a is an anise-flavored liqueur. You need such a small amount for this recipe and we could only find it in the traditional 750ml bottle so I’ll be looking up a few cocktail and baking recipes to use that up! Overall, this recipe was such a fun experience to make and it was quite tasty!
1 loaf fine-crumb white bread (Aragona uses challah)
1½ cups milk
½ cup cream
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon aniseed
Pinch of salt
1½ ounces anisette
Extra-virgin olive oil for frying
To prepare the bread: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut bread into 4-by-1-inch logs. Toast in a single layer on a sheet pan until cut surfaces are just dried slightly, but not colored. Allow to cool. (Or, cut bread into logs and air dry on a rack for several hours.
To make the custard: Combine the milk, cream, sugar, aniseed and salt in a heavy saucepan. Scald over low heat until bubbles form around the edges, and a skin forms on the surface. Do not boil.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs briefly. Slowly pour about one third of the scalded-milk mixture into the eggs to temper them, whisking constantly to avoid cooking eggs.
Slowly whisk the tempered-egg mixture back into the pot with remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (about 10 minutes). Pour thickened custard into a shallow baking dish to cool. Add the anisette when the custard has cooled.
To cook the bread: Place dried bread pieces in a single layer in the custard. Allow to soak 3 to 5 minutes, flipping halfway through, until bread is saturated. Work in batches if necessary. Drain bread on a rack over the baking dish for several minutes.
Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Brown the bread pieces on all sides, working in batches.
Serve hot or room temperature with ice cream!