Welcome back to Persona Kitchen this week everyone. I was absent for two weeks and I apologize. We were moving into a new apartment and one week all of my baking equipment was packed in boxes and the next week it was scattered all throughout my apartment and I couldn’t locate most of it. Now we are all settled in and the apartment is no longer a complete mess.
If you didn’t know, Jake and I got engaged one year ago (February 9, 2018) so I wanted to make him a special treat to celebrate. These Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros with Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce are the perfect treat to make this year for Valentine’s Day! They are fairly simple to make and they require just one tricky step: deep frying. A churros is basically just a simple pâte à choux dough, like what you would make an eclair or cream puff out of, that you pipe in to heart shapes, freeze, and then deep fry. Pâte à choux can seem hard to get right but I think this recipe is pretty full-proof. Just follow the directions closely and you’ll have perfect churros each time!
Instead of tossing the churros in your typical cinnamon sugar mixture, I decided to replace the cinnamon with crushed up freeze dried strawberries. I love this because your churros taste like strawberries and it makes them bright pink in color, perfect for Valentine’s Day! You can find freeze dried strawberries at almost every grocery store nowadays but I buy mine from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I just take the whole bag and pulse it in a food processor until you have a fine powder and then I run it through a fine mesh sieve (to catch any big pieces) and mix that in with the sugar.
Like I mentioned earlier, the only ‘tricky’ step in this recipe is the deep frying. Not that deep frying in it of itself is hard, it’s just that having a big pot of hot oil right in front of you can be a little intimidating. I find that so long as you have a thermometer to test the oil with, you’ll be good. I went many years without using a thermometer and I did just fine but having one handy gives you peace of mind. You just want the oil to stay around 350℉ and you’ll be good. Once you have deep fried each churro to be perfectly golden brown, I let them sit on a paper towel for a minute to get the excess oil off and then toss them in the strawberry sugar, coating every crevice! I decided to serve these with a warm Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce because it’s reminiscent of the classic Chocolate Covered Strawberries.
These Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros with Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce were absolutely delicious. The churros were light, chewy, and perfectly sweetened. The strawberry sugar was a nice change from your typical cinnamon/sugar combo and I loved the color that it added to these. The bittersweet chocolate sauce was warm, decadent, and the bittersweet-ness of the chocolate was a perfect balance to the rich and sugary churros.
I hope you enjoyed this weeks' recipe. I was so excited to make these and they turned out perfect! If you try this recipe, or any recipe, please let me know how it turned out and share your photos with me on Instagram (@personakitchen). I would love to hear from you! Have a wonderful weekend and happy Valentine’s Day.
Heart-Shaped Strawberry Churros (with Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce)
Makes about 12 Churros
For the Churros
1 Bag of Freeze Dried Strawberries
1 ½ Cups + 1 Tablespoon White Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Milk (any percentage will do but I always use Whole)
6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, cubed
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Vanilla Bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
3 Large Eggs, room temperature
Vegetable Oil for frying, I use about 4 cups but it will depend on the size of your pot
For the Bittersweet Chocolate Dipping Sauce
4 Ounce Bar Bittersweet Dark Chocolate (at least 60%)
1 Cup Heavy Cream
Pinch of Kosher Salt
For the Churros:
In the bowl of a small food processor, add the freeze dried strawberries and pulse until they ground into a fine powder. Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and pour the powder to through it to catch any large lumps. Discard the large pieces.
In a 9x13” inch baking dish, add the freeze dried strawberry powder and 1 ½ cups of sugar. Stir until fully combined. Set aside.
In a medium sized saucepan, add the water, milk, butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and turn the heat to medium. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted and the mixture is just barely simmering.
Add in the flour all at once, stirring constantly, until the mixture gathers into a ball. Continue to cook the dough for about one minute— you will start to see a “film” form on the bottom of the bottom of the pan, this means it’s ready.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl and let it cool for 4-5 minutes (don’t add the eggs to the hot dough or else they will scramble and you’ll have to start over). Once the dough is slightly cooled, add the eggs one at time, incorporating each egg fully before adding the next. Note, the dough will look very wet and broken up when you first add the eggs but just keep stirring and it will come together. Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a large open-star piping tip (Wilton 6B).
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Holding the piping bag parallel to the baking sheet, pipe out heart shapes, starting at the bottom point, and connecting back at that same point. You can make them as big or small as you’d like, mine were about 4 inches from top to bottom.
Once you have piped out all of the churros, put them into the freezer until they are solid enough that you pick them up off the parchment paper without them sticking or tearing, about 15 minutes.
While the churros are chilling, add your oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot (I use my Le Creuset 5.5 Qt Dutch Oven). You want about 3 inches of oil. Turn the heat to medium/medium-high, adjusting as needed, until the oil reaches 350℉ on a thermometer.
Once the churros are properly chilled, remove them from the freezer and very carefully add them one at a time to the hot oil (I like to use kitchen tongs to gently place them in the oil to avoid any burns), adding 3-4 churros at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook the churros for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, then carefully flip them over and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes more. Carefully remove the churros from the oil with a spider whisk and place them on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with the remaining raw churros.
Once all of the churros are fried, working one at a time, place a churro into your strawberry sugar mixture and and gently toss it around to cover the entire churro. Transfer to a clean plate or serving dish and repeat with the remaining churros.
For the Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Finely chop the chocolate bar with a sharp knife and transfer to a heat proof bowl.
In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream and salt and turn the heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the cream just begins to simmer— do NOT let it boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, making sure to cover each piece, and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Whisk the mixture until it’s evenly combined and smooth.
Pour the warm bittersweet chocolate sauce into a serving bowl.
Dip the churros into the warm chocolate sauce and enjoy!
* These churros are best served fresh and the same day they are made.