Our local family has gathered at my mom's for Sunday night dinner for years. The trick is, as a group, we're growing. College students bring friends and significant others, we have a regular weekend resident from the dorm staying with us. There are teenagers and tweens who orchestrate mad ping-pong tournaments in the basement and the delicious addition of babies who play the living room drum--beautiful chaos. But a weekly potluck sit-down dinner for an ever changing guest list of 20+ on a school night started to feel like Thanksgiving would be anticlimactic, so my mom in her wisdom downgraded it to a monthly 'gourmet-style' meal, with an email thread, a theme and a chance to plan ahead and showcase our culinary talents. This week was Viva La Mexico--I signed the Hoffmans up to make churros.
I could tell this made my sister a little nervous; we have worked together on hundreds of professional baking projects, and through this, we have established that she is 100% the better baker. Why? Because my sister is a rule and recipe follower, in all the very best ways. My strengths lie more in being willing to throw things together to see what happens, and scheming over-the-top creative/decorative additions. Trial and error is my middle name.
"Don't worry!" I told her. "I'm actually going to follow a recipe!"
"It's fried dough," she conceded.
"I mean, how bad can they be?" We finished the sentence together, in a way that makes our siblings, children and husbands roll eyes.
The answer is, better than not bad! They were delicious, adorably miniature, and surprisingly easy. Husbands stepped in to help, and the guests enjoyed them piping hot in my mom's hot tub while the steam curled up into the cool November night. Nobody talked politics, bellies were full of delicious carnitas, fish tacos, spicy enchiladas, sang-a-ritas, an amazing mango/kiwi salsa, and our tiny coils of hot, cinnamon sugar goodness.
I thought you might want to follow along, so I am sharing the recipe here:
(happily serves a passel of family and friends--about 10-12)
2 cups water
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 quarts oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
In a small saucepan on the stove, combine water, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons vegetable oil. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in flour, mixing until it forms a dense ball. When this is cool enough, load it into a plastic piping bag in two batches
Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). THIS IS IMPORTANT--if you put them in before it is hot enough, they get soggy. Using a large pastry bag and a tip (we used a WILTON 4B) pipe strips of dough into hot oil. (I would squeeze about 4 inches out, and my brother-in-law cut them with a pair of kitchen scissors.) Fry until golden; scoop out with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon in a brown paper bag. Shake drained churros in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Serve hot, preferably with ice cream and maybe some pomegranate seeds, and loving extended family and friends, poolside.