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posted: 8/12/2014 6:00 AM

Move over Jerome, Henry's in the kitchen ... making churros

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  • Churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar bring summer festival food home.

       Churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar bring summer festival food home.
    Deborah Pankey | Staff Photographer

  • Churros dough cooks in 350-degree peanut oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the churros get soggy before they cook through.

       Churros dough cooks in 350-degree peanut oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the churros get soggy before they cook through.
    Deborah Pankey | Staff Photographer

  • Henry Gabriel stirs churros batter; when the batter is cohesive and pulls away from the sides of the pan, it's done.

       Henry Gabriel stirs churros batter; when the batter is cohesive and pulls away from the sides of the pan, it's done.
    Deborah Pankey | Staff Photographer

 
By Henry Gabriel

I've been watching my mom and Jerome write the column for a couple of years and it seems like a good hobby. He's off at camp, so I asked if I could give it a try. It sounded like it would be fun because I liked the idea of baking stuff and making my own sweets and creations in general.

I've got a sweet tooth, I guess.

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We decided to make churros because I wanted to do something sweet.

Growing up we went to Mexico twice and I always loved the sweet smell of bakery foods in the streets when we walked to the park. I like the crunchy cinnamon-sugar on the outside and the soft dough on the inside.

My mom found a recipe in her files and we thought we'd give them a try at home.

One of the theories about churros is that they began in Portugal. Portuguese explorers discovered a sweet pastry in China, but it was illegal for the Chinese to share their pulling technique with foreigners. So the Portuguese came up with the technique of extruding the dough through a star tip.

At home we used a pastry bag full of the dough and put it into a vat of hot peanut oil to fry. The dough was pretty easy to make; it's thicker than cake batter, but more workable than cookie dough.

I recommend adult supervision for frying. Even I was trying to be careful but some oil got me anyway and burned my finger.

A word from Mom: Working with hot oil can be tricky and you can't warn your kids enough that it's hot. Water boils at 212 degrees, oil at 325 or higher, so yes, it's really hot. You want to be careful not to let the dough drop in with a splash. (BTW: He got burned in that 30 seconds when I turned away to take a phone call.)

We worked as a team, me squeezing the dough and Henry snipping 4-inch lengths with kitchen scissors as the dough came out of the bag. Kind of like working with Play-Doh.

Don't be tempted to take the churros out of the oil too soon. They might look done on the outside, but the insides can still be mushy. Cook them a full 2 minutes on each side. You may have to rest between batches to let the oil come back up to temperature, or cool down.

When they're still warm, roll them in cinnamon sugar. We also liked them coated in powdered sugar and served with a bit of chocolate sauce for dipping.

• Henry Gabriel will in sixth grade in the fall. His favorite food is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but he's recently added cheesy noodles and pork chops into his dinner rotation.

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