Latin American Cuisine: Churros de Queso (Cheese Churros)
Churros de queso, not to be confused with the ridged, sugar-and-cinnamon coated churros commonly served with chocolate sauce and coffee, are a savory Nicaraguan finger food. These index finger-sized pastries are rolled and filled with firm, salty, white cheese that resembles mozzarella in texture.
Churros, also called by the diminutive churritos, are a common item found in Nicaraguan bakeries, but they are most commonly served at afternoon parties and especially kids' birthday parties, there known as piñatas after the totem of the celebrations. Because they're a party item, they're rarely made at home, and instead catered and ordered at least by the hundred. Served at room temperature, they're piled greedily into festive paper plates and napkins, one never quite sufficing.
The pastry is the dough used for pie crust, and the procedure for making it is the same: chilled butter is cut into a mixture of flour, and for a bit of puff and lift, baking powder. Ice water, a small amount a time, is mixed in to make the mixture cohesive. (For more on pie dough check out Kenji's guide). Once formed, the dough is chilled, then rolled out and cut into small rectangles into which batons of cheese are rolled. Another rest in the fridge and you're ready to fry. Yes, the dirty secret of these pastries is that they're fried until golden and oozing with cheese. I've had baked versions, and though perfectly acceptable, it's a party, no? Fry 'em up.
This recipe makes 18 to 20 churritos, but if you decide to make them for a gathering and need piles of them, make them a day in advance up to the point of rolling and fry them a few hours before serving.
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About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blogs High Heels & Frijoles and Cookin' and Shootin'.
Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite. Read about her cravings and suffer through her rants on Twitter @HHandFrijoles and see her constant stream of food images on Instagram: mdmsacasa