Dia de los pumpkin churros!

Stop the presses: pumpkin churros are in la casa! Light and crispy on the outside, creamy and soft in the center, and kissed with a coating of cinnamon sugar, they’re a fine way to celebrate the first of November, be it for you Dia de los Muertos or to officially kick off this wonderful season of pumpkin infused goodies.The churros I grew up with were not the long, straight variety most North Americas may be familiar with via Mexican cuisine; these little guys are the delicate loops you’ll find throughout South America and Spain. These normally don’t have cinnamon either, but when the game is pumpkin cinnamon sugar seems only natural. There’s a Peruvian/Chilean pumpkin-sweet potato donut (picarones)these might be somewhat similar too, but making churros is much easier than practically any kind of donut around the world you could make in your kitchen right now.Churros are traditionally paired with thick and creamy hot chocolate (never the powdered hot cocoa mix); make your own by melting a good quality chocolate bar in your choice of non-dairy milk. Ground almonds, cinnamon and ground hot chiles, traditional Mexican hot chocolate companions, are now almost commonplace. Hot spiced apple cider would make a good stand in, as is a pumpkin-spiced cup of coffee.

I almost never deep fry foods, but the occasional churro (and tostone) is the exception to the rule. The best deep frying vessel you could use at home is a cast iron soup pot/Dutch oven, but after that use any heavy, thick-sided and high pot works. The choice of oil is flexible too: a freshly poured batch is best, perhaps peanut for really delicious churros but a canola blend is a thrifty choice. As mentioned above, churros is the fastest, easiest donut to make. Since the dough is quickly mixed in a pan and then squeezed through a pastry bag directly into the hot oil, there’s no rolling, cutting, rising, or much shaping to do. Churros can be as (almost as) spontaneous as you are.

Pumpkin Churros
makes about 20-22 four inch churros

Churro dough

  • ¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • Mild flavored vegetable oil for deep frying, enough for about 2 1/2 inches
  • Cinnamon sugar: 1/3 cup sugar plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Pour sugar and cinnamon into a dinner plate and stir to combine, then spread evenly in the dish. On another plate spread layers of paper towels or crumpled brown paper bags and have it nearby where you’ll be frying the churros.

2. In a deep cast iron pot pour enough oil to reach at least 2 ½ inches. Heat the oil over medium high heat; the oil is ready when it’s rippling and a small chunk of bread fries and turns golden immediately. If you have a thermometer the oil should be at 350 degrees, but if it passes the fry test it’s ready.

3. While the oil is heating, in a mixing bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt. In a large saucepan combine water, brown sugar, pumpkin puree and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, then stir in margarine to melt. Turn heat to low and slowly pour in a little of the flour mixture at a time, mixing constantly with a large fork (never use a wire whisk as the dough will just get gummed up in the wires). When all the ingredients are moistened, turn off the heat and switch to a rubber spatula and continue to stir the dough until it’s smooth and just cool enough to handle.

4. Fit a very large pastry bag with a large star tipped nozzle; the tip should be at least ¼ inch wide. Use the rubber spatula to pack the dough into the bag, then firmly twist the top to press the dough through the nozzle. Squeeze a length of dough about 4-5 inches long into the hot oil, either looping the ends together or into a straight line. If you prefer, use kitchen scissors to snip of the end of the dough as it lowers into the oil.

If you don’t feel comfortable lowering dough directly into hot oil, squeeze a dough loop onto waxed paper, then carefully lift it into the oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning over once with a wire skimmer, until churros are puffed and golden. Lift from the oil, allowing excess to drip off and place on the paper-lined plate to drain. When cooled after 1-2 minutes, flip churros a few times in the cinnamon sugar and serve warm.

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