Friday, November 26, 2010

Xan: Warming up with an afternoon snack

We'll get to Thanksgiving proper, but first, I wanted to share a new recipe.  Yesterday we took a short break from our feast preparations to enjoy some Pumpkin Pie Mini-Churros (I would add "of Great Deliciousness"  but it's obviously redundant).  I adapted this from a regular churro recipe by adding canned pumpkin puree to the batter and putting pumpkin pie spice into the sugar mixture, but you could just as easily leave the pumpkin out and use cinnamon instead of pumpkin pie spice.

I make mini-churro spirals. Why mini? Because I only have a tiny star icing nozzle, not a giant churro-sized one.  Also, mini-churros take very little oil.  But, you can make these any size you want; regular churros would be awesome! (They will require more like 5-10 minutes to cook).  If you don’t have any nozzles, or for that matter icing bags, just use a Ziploc bag and cut a hole in a corner. 
Oh yes, and why spirals? Because mini-churros are so thin, spirals are a nice way of making each churro more substantial for the eater.  Also, the compactness of the spirals speeds up the process considerably.  If your goal was just to cook all the batter as fast as possible, you would start in the center of the pan and squeeze out a single tight spiral that took up the whole surface area of the oil.  Besides the perfectly-solved packing problem, there is a fixed cost component to each churro (terminating it and restarting a new one takes time, which adds up), and this way you’d only have to pay it once per batch.  But…don’t try to make one big spiral.  Not a good idea.  Mini-spirals walk the line between efficiency and feasibility.  Plus, they’re pretty.

But you can do it however you want.

Xan’s Pumpkin Pie Mini-Churros
Adapted from regular churros recipe in Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World (p 655).

Oil for frying
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 TBS sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (or…mashed sweet potatoes?)

1.      Put about 2/3rds inches of oil in a cast iron skillet and heat to about 350 F (the temperature is not critical and I don’t actually measure it).  Mix the spice and sugar together on a large plate.
2.      Combine the remaining sugar, butter, salt, and 1 cup water in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat to low and add the flour all at once.  Stir constantly until the mixture forms a ball, about 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition.  Mix in the pumpkin pie filling.
3.      Spoon the dough into a pastry bag with a star tip.  Squeeze dough into the hot oil in tight spirals, using a fork to cut off the stream at the end of each spiral.  Cook as many as will fit comfortably at once, turning as they brown, for a total of 1-3 minutes each. (They are done when brown as in the picture).
4.      Remove the churros from the oil and drain them on paper towels, then immediately roll them in the sugar mixture.  Serve immediately!


  1. I know I ought to be admiring the churros, but I can't get past the terrifying spatula you guys own.

  2. at least mine doesn't have a knife for a mouth (!)