After smoldering, churros become a hot restaurant menu item
Tabu’ Chicago’s Churroulette Dessert is one of my original take on the classic treat. / Photo courtesy of Tabu’ Chicago.
Some food and drink trends have hit the menu like a thunderclap. A good example of the phenomenon is the meteoric rise of White Claw which reached dizzying sales heights virtually overnight in 2018, created the hard-seltzer category and opened the floodgates to competitors too numerous to mention.
Other trends, however, are more of the slow-burn kind. A great example is the churro. Hardly an overnight success, the item traces its origins at least as far back as the Middle Ages, where it was found in Arabic cookbooks and adopted throughout the Iberian Peninsula. The New York Times reports that its name is from a more recent vintage, probably tracing its roots to late 19th century Spain and onomatopoietically representing the sound flour-water-salt dough makes when hitting hot oil. .
And therein lies the basis of its growing popularity on menus: it is fried, topped with cinnamon and sugar, and often served with an extra sweet side.
Star attractions. Churros, along with hot chocolate, remain a breakfast staple in Spain, and they played a big game early in the day here too, usually in stunning presentations.
It’s a brunch staple at Azul Mariscos in Chicago, where Churro French Toast is topped with cinnamon crumble and cinnamon ice cream, while at nearby Churro Waffle, the eponymous specialty is served with ice cream. with sea salt caramel and a drizzle of caramel. sauce.
Taking a different approach to the morning menu, La Churreria in New York invites diners to “Get Churroed” with the Churro Egg Sandwich featuring scrambled eggs, serrano ham, Manchego cheese and a side of homemade potato chips.
Churros are also appearing in savory apps later in the day. They’re on the lunch menu at Xoco in Chicago, the laid-back sibling of chef Rick Bayless’ famed Frontera Grill, where the spicy chicken and churro sandwich a la mode puts arbol hot sauce and chipotle mayonnaise on a chicken breast. crispy on a crispy churro churro. The Churreria won rave reviews with its promotional Churro Dog, in which Basque-style Chistorra sausages and caramelized onions are encased in freshly fried churros.
Unexpected applications. Their versatility and promotional ability can make churros a chain hit. Chuck E. Cheese proved the point and helped make National Unicorn Day a thing on April 9, 2019, with his introduction of Unicorn Churros. Baked, not fried, they come in three Day-Glo colors, Pink, Green, and Blue, and three standout flavors, Cotton Candy, Sour Green Apple, and Blue Raspberry. Served in a cute unicorn mug, they’re both kids’ magnets and social media bait.
If churros and Chuck E. Cheese make unexpected menu companions, there’s a whole fryer full of other multinational mash-ups. Beard Papa’s, the Japanese chain that is gaining traction in the United States with its creative cream puffs, has created a special spring Churro Puff filled with horchata.
Pan-Asian specialties at Chicago’s 2d restaurant include chocolate Churro Pon de Ring, mochi donuts made with French chocolate, and a proprietary blend of five spices that sell out fast every morning. Nearby Xurro Churro Factory drew in an audience with Churro S’mores, a mini version of which was a big hit at last year’s Lollapalooza music festival.
The special churro dessert menu at Toca Madera locations in Scottsdale and West Hollywood features the item in innovative forms such as Churro Ice Cream Sandwiches finished with homemade cajeta and Churro Pops with churro crumble to cinnamon and buttercream. The cinnamon and chipotle churro fritters mix things up a bit, as the gentle heat of the chipotle dulce de leche is balanced by the cooling of the horchata ice cream.
The simple cinnamon-sugar combination also lends itself easily to adapting drinks. Peet’s Coffee toasted the arrival of 2022 in January with a range of churro-inspired quaffs, including Churro Latte and Churro Caramel Macchiato. And Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom hosted a mini Cinco de Mayo drink tour, including a Chocolate Churro Shot.
Summer sweeteners. Last summer, Carvel Ice Cream pulled out all the stops with churro-flavored ice creams, soft creams and shakes launching just in time for National Ice Cream Day on July 18. Additionally, Churro Crunchies,crunchy vanilla chunks in a vanilla shell with cinnamon and sugar, marked Crunchie’s first-ever new permanent flavor in the brand’s long history. Kind of a steroid nugget, the popular topping is available both in-store and on the go, making it easy to crunch unfettered at home.
In June 2021, pop star and Tik Tok heavyweight Jason Derulo collaborated with Jack in the Box on a virtual Milli Meals menu to celebrate his millionth follower on the site. The promo included Bacon Churro Milli Shake with maple syrup and bacon bits mixed with cinnamon sugar and topped with bacon and mini churros borrowed from the chain’s permanent menu.
Churro-mania roared well into this summer season, as Shake Shack welcomed its May 11 arrival with the limited-time Chocolate Churro Shake made with hand-spun cinnamon churro ice cream, dressed in a spicy dark chocolate sauce and additional toppings of cinnamon waffle cone crumbles and whipped cream. Sonic Drive-Ins will be released in the summer of August 1 through September 25 with a promotional double-track featuring a Churro Shake mixing ice cream cream with gooey caramel and sweet cinnamon sugar, all topped with real cinnamon sugar churro, whipped topping and a cherry. There are also dipping churros on the brand’s Summer Snacking menu.
Sizzle vs. Fizzle. Late last year, Business Insider reported that hard seltzer sales remained flat for most players in the overcrowded category. Volumes hit a record high in 2020, thanks to a Covid-induced rebound in home drinking. However, the category appears to have jumped the shark in the summer of 2021, when many competitors’ sales fizzled and they were forced to dump millions of cases of product. The Atlantic opined that the real reason for the drop in sales is that many consumers find the flavors “primarily disgusting.”
Such a fate does not await the churro. Its current sizzling popularity will slow, but not completely dissipate as chefs continue to capitalize on its basic, deep-fried appeal with inventive, witty treatments like Tabu’ in Chicago. The dessert menu warns diners to choose wisely from the churroulette wheel, which includes five sweet options and one that’s topped off with fiery habañero, a fun gamble in which there are no real losers.
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