Churros are coil-shaped, fritter-like pastries that are eaten plain, covered with cinnamon and sugar, or filled with custards or jams. Churros were a popular food for Spanish shepherds and were eventually taken to the New World. The churro gained popularity in South and Central America and can now be found throughout the Americas. It is still popular in Spain as well.
Centuries ago, Spanish shepherds used to make churros while tending churra sheep high in the mountains. Because they did not have many cooking supplies, they needed to come up with a food that could be made easily and cooked over an open fire. Churros were a logical solution as they could be easily put together and cooked with a mere pan and oil. Churros were named after the churra sheep because the pastry resembled the sheep's horns.
Making a Churro
Using wheat flour, the shepherds would roll out a length of dough and fry it in a pan over an open fire. It was not the star-shaped pastry you see today. It was more like a breadstick in shape and size. After cooking, the shepherds would eat it plain or roll it in cinnamon-sugar.
With the Spanish settlement of the Caribbean and much of Latin America, churros also made their way to the New World. As Latin Americans immigrated to the United States, so did this delectable dessert. Churros are now sold in street carts, markets, cafes and restaurants. Although they moved across an ocean, churros did not lose their popularity in Spain either. Today, churros are still a very popular Spanish breakfast, snack or dessert item.
As its popularity grew outside the shepherding population, the shape of the churro began to evolve. Using a churrera---an extruder with a star tip---churro-makers now create a star-shaped length of dough rather than the traditional breadstick shape. Additionally, churros are now being served with all types of fillings, from chocolate to jams and custards.
Spotting a Good Churro
Despite being deep fried in oil, churros should never be greasy. They should be crisp and have a lovely golden-brown color. They should be crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. This pastry can be enjoyed any time of the day as long as it is made fresh.
- Photo Credit Mimi's Churros