Tonight I’m sitting at my kitchen table waiting for Jordan to come home from school and waiting for my oven to preheat. The sound of a neighbor’s Billy Holiday record is wafting in through the open window, the smell of cooking tomato sauce along with it. I can hear the occasional clink of a spoon against a pot when the noise of traffic pauses in time to the lights. Every 20 minutes or so the robotic voice of a bus drones “2 Clement to Presidio Avenue” as it pulls away from the curb, then the Billy Holiday drifts back in.
We’re back into our usual school rhythm, Jordan teaching and working in the lab, and working at the record store on his days off from school. It’s busy, and we don’t see as much of each other as we’d like, but it’s also familiar, more or less the pace of life since we moved here. It’s strange to feel the changing of the seasons so specifically when the temperature always seems to hover around 65°, but here we are, entering into our fourth fall in San Francisco. I’m feeling pretty good about this one.
This dessert is a perfect transition between summer and fall. You’ve got the last of summer’s peaches, paired with the warm comfort of cinnamon and whiskey. Plus fried dough. Fried dough is always in season. Churros are deceptively simple to make, far easier than doughnuts in my first-timers opinion, but they push all the same delicious buttons. Churros are no longer relegated to carnival treat in this house. So here’s to end of one season and the start of another, I’ll toast you with a churro, or three.
Churros with Whiskey Sauce and Peach Compote
For the churros, adapted from The Other Side of the Tortilla
1 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a dash of ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 liter of neutral, high heat oil (safflower, sunflower, canola)
To dust the churros
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Bring water, butter, brown sugar and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Remove the water mixture from the heat and add in the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the vanilla and stir again. Then add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. It will be a brief, but strenuous arm workout. Let the dough cool a bit.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy pot, like a dutch oven. Put it over medium low heat and let the oil come up to temperature, about 350 F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and top with a cooling rack. Mix the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat and put that in a large, shallow dish.
When the dough has cooled slightly, spoon it into a pastry bag fitted with the star tip. The star tip is what gives churros their adorable shape. I usually put my pastry bag in a tall glass and then can more easily fill it with two hands. This is a sticky dough, but it comes out of the pastry bag just fine.
Before you pipe in a whole churro, test the oil temperature by squeezing out a 1″ piece. If the oil is ready, the churro should immediately start to bubble vigorously and float to the top. If not, wait a while for the oil to come up to temperature. If your oil isn’t hot, you’ll get soggy, greasy churros, which would be a tragedy.
Pipe a few churros into the pot. I found the easiest way to handsome churros was cut the churro from the pastry bag with a knife after I had piped about 4 inches of dough. Don’t crowd them. They will take about 3 – 4 minutes per side to become a deep golden brown. Remove them from the oil and let drain on the rack. After they’ve cooled slightly, lightly toss them in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Serve churros immediately, or let cool completely on the rack. To reheat, warm them for 5 – 7 minutes in a 350° F oven. They’re best the first day, but not too shabby on the second if you somehow have leftovers.
For the whiskey sauce, from the ever lovely Katie Norton
1 cup sugar
1/2 c butter (8 tablespoons, 1 stick)
1 egg, beaten
2 oz burbon whiskey
In a heavy bottomed pot, cream the butter with the sugar over medium low heat. When the sugar is almost dissolved and butter is melted, add in the beaten egg. Whisk to incorporate and then whisk constantly for one minute, until the sauce comes together and has a creamy consistency. Remove from the heat and whisk in the bourbon. This sauce is good on just about anything.
For the peach compote
2 peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons brown sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 lemon, juiced
In a heavy bottomed pot, add the peaches and brown sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the fruit is quite soft. Remove from the heat and purée. I used an immersion blender. Add the lemon juice and blend just a bit more to incorporate. Store in the fridge if you have leftovers.