I called Matt last week, pressing him, trying to figure out what he decided to make for his upcoming turn in the kitchen. Churros, he said. Most kids don’t ask for churros – and it surprised me that he considered such a thing. I’ve only made churros once, as an experiment, and they didn’t exactly turn out all that well. And those were with wheat flour. These would have to be gluten-free churros. This would definitely be an experiment again. I said yes. We hung up the phone, and I immediately started searching for gluten-free pate a choux recipes.
Pate a choux (pronounced paht ah shoo) is a cooked pastry dough that is used for many of the most elegant of pastries – profiteroles, eclairs, crullers, gougeres, and yes, churros. While I’ve experimented with gluten-free baking, I haven’t spent much effort in other pastries, so this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. Good thing I had Shauna at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef to rescue me. She posted a pate a choux recipe back in 2006. I love when I can stumble upon gluten-free recipes that are kitchen-tested, and I know her recipes are.
But wait. What are churros, you ask? Churros are possibly one of the best sweet treats in the world. Originally from Spain, but also popular among Latin American cultures, churros are fried dough strips, often sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and many times, served with chocolate dipping sauce. Here in Texas, I’ve had versions with cajeta, a caramel sauce, injected in the center. Heaven.
We opted to go the easy route, and just sprinkle our churros with cinnamon and sugar. I followed Shauna’s recipe pretty closely, not wanting to become too experimental in unknown territory. Once the pate a choux was ready, we scooped it into a pastry bag with the end snipped off (I tried to use my star tip, but the resulting churros were way too skinny). We piped lengths of dough into hot oil, a few at a time, and fried for a few minutes until browned. Matt invited his friend over to help, and so we took turns piping the dough into the oil, and Matt and his friend sugared the churros as they were cool enough to touch. (They thoroughly enjoyed that part!)
Verdict? Better than my previous gluten-filled attempt. I would still like for them to be crispier than they were, but the kids gobbled them up. I have a feeling this won’t be the last of churro-making at the Tasty Eats household.
Gluten-Free Churros, adapted from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
32 oz canola oil
1/2 c water
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 T sugar
1/8 t salt
1/4 c white rice flour
2 T sweet rice flour
2 T tapioca flour
3 large eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
Place oil in a large heavy pot and heat to 360 degrees.
Meanwhile, place the water, butter, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as butter is melted, mix in the gluten-free flours, stirring with a wooden spoon, until ingredients are incorporated together. A crust will develop in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry – this is supposed to happen. When the mixture is ready, it will become a ball of dough, pulling away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the dough in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer running, add one egg. Let the mixer run until the egg has been incorporated into the dough. Add the next egg and mix until it has been incorporated. Repeat with the third egg. Add the vanilla and stir. (You can opt to do this by hand as well, if you don’t have a mixer.)
The dough will be soft, but not runny. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or do as we did, and just snip off the end). Pipe dough into the hot oil, making each churro about 5 inches long. Allow to brown in the oil for a minute or two, and flip over to brown the other side. When browned, remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining dough.
In a shallow bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dredge churros in sugar mixture. Serve warm.