Thanks to La Lechera for sponsoring this Valentine’s Day post. All ideas and opinions are my own.
Where’s your head at this Valentine’s Day? Mine is somewhere over in left field, which is exactly why I’m getting a head start with these oh so precious chocolate churro hearts.
My baby boy loves him some churros and I’m going to admit here and now that I had never actually made them at home before I dove head first into testing this recipe. We overzealously tested the heck out of this recipe and continue to make it…for testing purposes of course.
I was looking for some fun inspiration for Valentine’s Day when I came across this recipe for Mini Churros with Dulce de Leche on the La Lechera Pinterest board. They looked easy enough, I had no idea churros are basically fried pate a choux—you know the dough used to make eclairs and profiteroles—read: no mixer required. I was sold.
Chocolate + Eggs
I wanted to bump up the Valentine’s factor and make chocolate churros, which required nothing more than adding some cocoa powder to the dough. The eggs on the other hand require some discussion.
The first few times I made the recipe I added 2 eggs, which made gloriously crispy churros with perfectly eggy middles but were also impossible to form into any shape whatsoever. The final recipe calls for only 1 egg making it firm enough to form into the adorable heart shapes but the result is not as soft and doughy in the middle.
You will have to choose your destiny with this one; cuteness over texture. The chocolate churro hearts are still delicious but are missing the spongy middle of a perfect churro. If you want to add the other egg, just pipe the dough directly into the hot oil using scissors to cut off 4-5 inch ropes of dough as they drop in (it is much easier than it sounds, you can do this).
If you want to make the chocolate churros into heart shapes you will need some muscle to pipe the dough out, if you pipe it while it is still warm this will help. Use a re-useable piping bag if at all possible. I tried it a few times with those disposable piping bags and had to triple up on them (putting three bags on top of each other) to make them sturdy enough to handle the pressure of the dough.
What’s With The Lard?
If you read down, you’ll notice I used vegetable oil AND lard to fry the churros. If you have access to lard, I highly recommend this whenever you deep fry anything from chips to chicharrones. The combination of vegetable oil and lard has the best flavor and fries things more quickly making them less greasy and crispier.
Dulce de Leche Sauce
Traditionally churros are served with a rich chocolate sauce but with the chocolate inside the churro already, I made a simple boozy sauce from La Lechera Dulce de Leche.
I added a splash of my favorite winter liqueur, Cuarenta Y Tres or Licor 43. This is a Spanish liqueur with flavors of citrus and vanilla and I highly recommend keeping a bottle around to add to a shot of espresso every once in a while. Other boozy options for the Dulce de Leche sauce would be dark rum, brandy, or even Kahlua. If you want to skip the alcohol all together you can loosen up the dulce de leche with 1/4 cup of milk.
By definition, chocolate churro hearts are best served minutes out of the oil, almost too hot to eat, crusted with cinnamon and sugar, a generous swath of dulce de leche, and shared with the ones you love. If you happen to make it to proper table so much the better—we never made it passed the kitchen counter.
For the Churros:
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup lard, for frying (optional)
For the Dulce de Leche Sauce:
- 1 (13.4 oz) can La Lechera Dulce de Leche
- 1/4 cup Licor 43
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Piping Bag
- Large star tip (preferably a #8 tip)
To make the Churros:
- Combine water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in a 4 quart saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
- Remove from heat, add flour and cocoa and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Let cool slightly (about 5 minutes) then add egg and beat into the mixture until fully incorporated.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone sheet and spray with baking spray. Transfer dough to the piping bag fitted with the star attachment and pipe into a 10-inch long rope on the prepared sheet. Bend rope to form a heart shape, squeezing the two ends together so they stick and creating a point at the other end. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Combine vegetable oil and lard in a large Dutch oven or deep cast iron pot and attach a deep fat fry thermometer to the side.
- Line a baking sheet with a couple layers of paper towels. Combine granulated sugar and cinnamon in a large, wide bowl.
- Once oil reaches 375°F add 2-3 churro hearts at a time and fry until crisped, about 2 minutes. Flip and continue to fry 1 more minute on the other side. Watch the oil temperature and raise or lower the heat to keep it as steady as possible.
- Remove churros with a bamboo skimmer or tongs to the paper towel-lined sheet. Let cool about a minute then dip in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat both sides. Set back on the baking sheet to cool. Repeat with remaining churro hearts.
To make the Dulce de Leche Sauce:
- Combine dulce de leche, Licor 43, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is smooth and well combined. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm with the churros.