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Sweet and crunchy on the outside, soft and dense on the inside, the sticks of fried dough called churros are a popular treat across Mexico.
To try the ultimate version, head to Churrería El Moro, an institution since 1935 that’s renowned for its golden churros and rich hot chocolate.
“You have to come here when you’re in Mexico City,” said Eva Longoria, host of the CNN series “Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico.”
A Spaniard named Francisco Iriarte founded Churrería El Moro. According to the restaurant, when Iriarte moved to Mexico City in the 1930s, churros — a classic snack in Spain and Portugal — were hard to find. So, he set up a cart and started selling them downtown. His churros were a hit.
Two years later, Iriarte established a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The family-run business now has 15 locations around Mexico. The original store is in the Zócalo, the historic center of Mexico City.
The sweet treat can be found in various forms throughout Latin America.
Unlike most churro recipes, which include butter and eggs, El Moro’s dough consists of just three ingredients: flour, water and salt. The winning formula makes this churro deliciously crispy.
Piped into hot oil in a striking spiral shape, the churros are cut into long sticks once fried and coated in sugar or a cinnamon-sugar mix. Lined with ridges, the treats are perfect for dipping into a chocolate, dulce de leche or condensed milk sauce.
You can also dip your churros in hot chocolate. El Moro makes six types — including the traditional light Mexican chocolate, a sweet, thick Spanish version and a French one that’s flavored with vanilla.
Longoria says churros are her son’s favorite.
“When it comes to food, we all have our guilty pleasures — for my son, it’s chocolate and churros,” she said in an episode of “Searching for Mexico.” “Churros and chocolate are a dream come true for my 4-year-old son, Santi.”
Churros With Chocolate Sauce
To get the signature shape, use a pastry bag and a large closed-star pastry tip, which creates the ridges. These accessories can be found online. You could also use a standard plastic bag — cut a hole in the corner to create straight lines to pipe out the dough.
Makes 28 churros
1 teaspoon | 4 grams sea salt
1 cup | 130 grams wheat flour
8½ cups I 2 liters vegetable oil, such as canola oil or corn oil
¾ cup | 150 grams sugar for sprinkling on fried dough
1 cup | 220 grams unsweetened dark chocolate (50% cacao)
¾ cup | 90 grams cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup | 200 grams sugar
¾ cup | 180 milliliters cold heavy whipping cream
Large closed-star pastry tip
Make the churros:
1. Heat 1 1/5 cups | 284 milliliters water and the salt in a pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water boils, remove from heat.
2. Place the wheat flour in a bowl. Slowly add the boiled water to the flour.
3. Using a spatula, fold the flour into the water just until incorporated.
4. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 10 minutes.
5. In a saucepan, heat the oil over high heat until it reaches a temperature of about 375 degrees Fahrenheit (about 191 degrees Celsius).
6. Using a pastry bag with a large closed-star pastry tip, add the dough and remove the excess air.
7. Working in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, pipe out strips of dough over the hot oil (about 5 inches or 13 centimeters long, depending on the size of your pan). Fry the churros, pouring oil on top of the dough with a spoon, until golden, about 3 minutes.
8. Using tongs, remove the churros from the hot oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Using a spoon, sprinkle the sugar over the churros. Serve with chocolate dipping sauce.
Prepare the chocolate sauce:
1. Pour water into a wide skillet until it reaches 1 inch (or 2.5 centimeters) high. Break the chocolate into pieces and pour into a heatproof bowl (stainless steel or tempered glass). Place the bowl in the skillet and heat over medium-low heat and bring the water to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, turn off the heat. Let the chocolate sit until melted.
2. Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl. Using a whisk, beat until smooth.
3. Add the sugar to the cream cheese and mix until combined.
4. Add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese.
5. Using a chilled immersion blender at medium-low speed, beat the heavy whipping cream in a separate chilled bowl until foamy.
6. Add the whipped cream to the chocolate-cream cheese mixture and mix all the ingredients until they are incorporated.
7. Let cool for 5 minutes.
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This recipe is courtesy of Churrería El Moro in Mexico City.