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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maple Churros with Rich Vanilla Cream

Inspiration:  Dinner and a shared desert with some of my wonderful girlfriends at Ottavio.   Some of life's greatest pleasures  = girlfriends, desert and dinner - in that order.

This is basically a choux pastry batter that is deep fried instead of baked.  The result is a surprisingly light beignet style desert.  I decided to dust them with maple sugar after blotting them a bit post frying (it's maple syrup time in Quebec), but you can sprinkle them with regular sugar, icing sugar or leave them as is.  Paired with this intense vanilla pastry cream, it is really hard to stop at only one.  

This is a great light and fun desert when you are entertaining and  you can try serving a few different dipping sauces like chocolate or salted butter caramel for a variety of taste combinations.  You can make them early in the day and keep on the counter until ready to serve or store in batches in the freezer.  They can also be gently reheated before serving.

Time:  45 minutes of prep and 45 minutes of cooking

Maple Churros:  Makes about 60 - 4 inch churros

How to make them:
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) of water
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) of milk
  • 1/2 cup (120g) of salted butter, in cubes
  • 2T (30ml) of maple syrup
  • 1 cup (240ml) of flour
  • 3 large eggs (or 4 medium)
  • oil for frying (1 L bottle of vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 cup of maple sugar for dusting (or sugar, icing sugar)
Begin by placing the water (1/2 cup - 120ml), the milk (1/2 cup - 120ml), the butter (1/2 cup - 120g) and the maple syrup (2T - 30ml) in a deep sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a gentle boil while stirring.

Once you see the liquid begin to boil, remove from the heat and add the flour (1 cup - 240ml).  Stir in quickly until the batter comes together and pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Return to the heat to dry out the batter a little, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.

Transfer to a bowl to allow to cool for 15 minutes.

Once cooled, add the eggs (3 large - 4 medium) one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  You can do this with a hand mixer if you have one.   You should have a smooth batter that will be easy to pipe.  

Line a large glass or jar with a piping bag in which you have placed a large star piping tip (or one of your choice).  Add the batter and close the bag by pushing out the air and turning the top edge of the bag to seal.

Heat the vegetable oil (1L) to 350°F (170°C) in a high sided large skillet or pot.  Hold the piping bag close to the oil and begin to squeeze desired length of churros into the hot oil.  If you have someone to help you, get them to snip the tip off with a knife or shears so that you will have nice even ends.  As my batter was a little runny (I used 4 large eggs) and I did this alone,  I just pulled up on the batter to allow it to cut naturally.  This gave the churros narrow ends but this worked well for me as I needed both hands to pipe evenly and quickly.  If your batter is a little thicker, you will be able to cut the tip.  Just see how it goes for you.

Fry until golden on one side and flip to colour the other side.  This is quick and should take about one minute.  Transfer to a paper towel to blot off some of the oil and immediately coat with maple sugar, sugar or icing sugar (you will need about 1/2 cup).   Serve with rich vanilla cream, chocolate sauce or caramel.  Enjoy!

Rich Vanilla Cream:  makes 1 cup
  • 1 cup (240ml) of milk
  • 1T (15ml) of vanilla paste, vanilla extract (or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped)
  • 4T (50g) of sugar, divided in two portions
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (30g) of flour
  • 1t of butter
Put the milk (1 cup - 240ml) in a sauce pan with the vanilla paste (1T - 15ml) and 2T (25g) of sugar over medium heat until you start seeing bubbles around the edges - about 3 minutes.

While the liquid is heating, place the egg yolks in a bowl with the remaining sugar (2T - 25g).   Whisk vigorously to blanch (about 3 minutes) and add the flour (1/4 cup - 30g).  Whisk to combine.

Pour a little of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture to temper while continuing to whisk.  Add the remaining liquid and whisk to combine.  Return the mixture to the pan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil while stirring continuously.  Allow to boil for 1 minute to thicken (keep stirring so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan). Remove from heat and whisk in the butter (1t).  

Transfer to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a crust from forming.  Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Whisk the pastry cream again just before serving to give it a smooth, silky texture.  Enjoy!

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