All week long we’re featuring recipes from our favorite Latino chefs, perfect for Valentine’s Day and wonderful for sharing with loved ones. To kick things off, we’re starting with a sweet dessert courtesy of Puerto Rican chef Carmen Conzalez.
Chef Carmen Gonzales says that the recipe for a perfect Valentine’s Day tête-à-tête is actually fairly straight forward: serve your sweetheart churros, which look impressive but are fairly easy to make. Crisp-fried with a creamy interior, dusted liberally with sweet cinnamon sugar and dipped in rich, warm chocolate, churros are a dessert which you can eat with your fingers, making them both sexy and fun.
“There’s just something very special about a crispy, warm and fluffy dessert,” says Gonzalez, who has made the fried dough pastry a constant on her menu at each of her restaurants to date. “It’s very different from stuffing yourself with an entire soufflé – churros are a very sensual and delicate. And of course, feeding your partner is always romantic.”
To quell any fears of deep-frying and thwarting your chance of romance with offerings of soggy pastry, Gonzales offers her tried and true tips for making them perfectly. Shape the churros in advance and freeze them in plastic baggies or on baking sheets (“you can do this up to five days in advance,” says Gonzalez), a step which allows you skip right to the frying on the big day. Make sure your oil is approximately 375 degrees: any less, and your churros will be soggy; any higher, and they will be crispy but with an undercooked interior. Follow Gonzales’ advice and ladies, you may very well end up with a proposal as the Puerto Rican chef did when one food critic tried her churros at Carmen the Restaurant in Miami.
“He wrote that once guests ate my churros, they would ask to marry me,” says Gonzales, laughing. And of course, given the opportunity she says, she would make the traditional Spanish pastry for her celebrity crush, George Clooney.
“I would definitely make churros for George,” jokes Gonzales. Until then he calls, she’ll be serving these up at her restaurant in Portland, Maine this Valentine’s Day.
Churros with warm chocolate sauce
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Procedure: Bring first 4 ingredients to boil in heavy medium saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves and butter melts. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add flour; stir vigorously with wooden spoon until shiny dough mass forms, about 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl; cool 5 minutes. Whisk eggs with electric mixer one at a time; until a smooth, sticky paste forms.
Spoon batter into pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 4-inch-long ribbons batter on to a sheet pan with parchment paper (use knife if necessary to cut batter at end of star tip). Fry until golden brown in small batches in oil that has been heated to 375 degrees. Transfer to paper towels. Cool 5 minutes, then toss in cinnamon sugar to coat.
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups water
1/2 cup corn syrup
11/2 cups cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
Procedure: In sauce pan heat up water, sugar and corn syrup, add to dry ingredients. Serve warm over churros and as a dipping sauce