The Spanish tend to eat much later in the day than Americans do, and breakfast is no exception. Instead of the morning rush hour customary in so many other countries, a morning stroll down any side street in Barcelona will reveal people happily chatting in outdoor cafes or leisurely enjoying freshly-baked pastries from any of the plentiful bakeries. In fact, the Spaniards’ approach to breakfast is very similar to that of the French: Pan au chocolat (chocolate-filled croissants) are just as plentiful here, and most people seem to prefer something light and sweet to a heavy, protein-filled meal. Though there are numerous waffle carts around town, don’t expect them to be open for breakfast – like in most European countries, the waffle is viewed as a dessert, usually topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Of course, the most popular breakfast food here is the classic dish of churros con chocolat. This light yet decadent dish combines the Spanish love of rich chocolate with their prevalent use of spices, as the churros are dusted with cinnamon. Many authentic recipes call for “Spanish Hot Cocoa Bar,” which is like a chocolate bar that can be melted down to make hot chocolate (when you order hot chocolate in many European cafes, you’re given a cup of hot milk and a block of the bar on a stick, which you then stir into your cup). Since this isn’t sold in the States, here’s a recipe from scratch from Food Network.
Churros and Hot Chocolate
Recipe courtesy Chocolateria San Gines, Madrid, Spain
Total Time:: 45 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 15 min
Yield: 6 servings
8 cups vegetable or olive oil (*I recommend using vegetable – I think the olive oil changes the flavor)
1 cup water
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
Churros: 8 cups vegetable or olive oil 1 cup water 1/2 cup margarine or butter 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 eggs 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional
Hot Chocolate: 4 ounces dark chocolate 2 cups milk 1 tablespoon cornstarch 4 tablespoons sugar
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 360 degrees F.
To make the churro dough, heat the water, margarine, and salt to a rolling boil in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, approximately 1 minute and remove from heat. Beat eggs until smooth and add to the saucepan while stirring the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip. Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into the hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and roll the churros in the sugar mixture. Set aside until ready to serve.
To prepare the hot chocolate for dipping, place the chocolate and half the milk in a saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring, until the chocolate has melted. Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly until the chocolate thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and whisk until smooth. Pour chocolate into cups and serve with churros.