One of my blog resolutions this year (yes, blog resolutions are a real thing, and yes, one of those resolutions was to bake a pie a month) was to be more mindful of “bloggable holidays” and plan recipes around them. And nope, I’m not talking about the weird, fake made-up ones like “National Chocolate Cake Day” or “National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day” (where did those come from anyway???). I’m talking about making stuff like hamantashen for Purim, and Bailey’s Irish Cream desserts for St. Paddy’s.
But of course, this week is like, the Perfect Storm of bloggable holidays. It’s Chinese New Year today, Mardi Gras tomorrow, and Valentine’s Day this weekend. So do I make a round dessert for Chinese New Year (‘cuz round foods eaten on that day symbolize reunion and being together with your loved ones), or make some beignets in the spirit of a New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration? And how exactly do I throw Valentine’s Day into the mix? Ugh, my head hurts.
But thank goodness for these donut holes.
These churro holes come from my extraordinarily talented blog friend, Aimee from Twigg Studios, and her awesome new cookbook Love, Aimee. They’re pretty much exactly what they sound like — instead of piping churro batter into their traditional tube shapes, Aimee’s recipe calls for rolling the batter into balls for donut holes!
And Aimee didn’t know this when she sent me her beautiful book, but this recipe kills hella birds with one stone. They’re pretty much the perfect dessert for all the holidays this week! They’ve got that symbolic lucky round shape going on for Chinese New Year, and their fried nature is a great homage to the famous beignets of New Orleans. And served with dulce de leche caramel on the side, that kinda ties in Valentine’s Day too, right? Because isn’t caramel usually associated with Valentine’s Day? Am I trying too hard? Whatever, these are delicious. I’ll gladly eat them any day, holiday or no holiday.
Happy Chinese New Year / Mardi Gras / Valentine’s Day, folks!
Some baker’s notes:
- So if you’ve never made choux pastry before, this recipe will probably confuse you since churros are made from deep-fried choux dough. Choux dough is created by cooking butter, water, flour, and eggs in a pot over heat. These ingredients combine together to make a dough with high water content. You then cook off the water in the dough to create steam that helps puff the pastry. It’s awesome and makes you feel like a bad-ass pastry chef. Unfortunately, because the end result is basically a dried out dough, it doesn’t keep very well after a day or so and tends to go stale very quickly. Eat these churros as soon as you make them! Though let’s be honest — that probably won’t be a problem.
- These churros are deep-fried, but I assure you that you don’t need any fancy equipment to deep-fry things at home. I usually just pour enough oil into my trusty Staub cocotte (which is apparently on sale now for a great price, good lord) and use a candy thermometer to get it to the temperature the recipe needs. Get a candy thermometer! It really makes the kitchen a much more wonderful place. I like digital ones, but the old-fashioned ones tend to work best for deep frying.
Churro Donut Holes
- a deep-fry candy thermometer
- 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (8 fl. ounces) water
- 7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- a pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- vegetable oil, for frying
- First, make the sugar coating. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon until fragrant and well combined. Set aside.
- In a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pot, combine 1 cup water, 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 1/4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the butter has melted.
- Once the butter has melted, take the pan off heat, and add 1 cup all-purpose flour and use a rubber spatula to beat into the mixture until it begins to form a smooth paste that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Return to heat and stir constantly for another minute or so.
- After a minute, transfer the pastry mixture to the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the mixture on medium speed for a minute, before lowering the speed to its slowest setting and adding 2 eggs, only adding the second one when the first has been fully incorporated. Add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
- Use a 1-tablespoon cookie dough scoop (in a pinch, use a tablespoon!) to portion out 1 tablespoon measures of the dough. Roll each portion into a ball with your hands.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a pan or a deep-fryer until it reaches 350 (F). Drop a few of the churro balls into the oil and cook on each side for 2 to 3 minutes. When the churro balls become nice and golden, remove from heat and place on a wire rack for around 30 seconds or so, before transferring to the bowl containing the sugar coating (from the 1st step) and rolling the balls until they're nice and coated. Enjoy immediately.