This is one of the dishes I’m working on for my next “underground” dinner party. Cafe Flora (where I previously interned) has graciously agreed to host this time. The menu I’m working on will be Spanish, with both traditional and modern elements. (If you are interested in attending the dinner on Tue. 1/27, there might be a few spots left; drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, let me know how many in your party, and I’ll be in touch).
Churros and thick hot chocolate are popular throughout Spain and much of Latin America, often as a breakfast treat or street food. They can be made thick or thin, straight or knotted, and from a potato based dough or wheat flour, but they are always extruded and fried like a doughnut.
Churro dough is similar in conception to a choux paste – you make a hot mixture of flour, butter and water, and then beat eggs into it. I used a recipe from Michelle Bernstein, which worked terrific. Since I had a savory application in mind, I rolled them in smoked paprika (pimenton dulce), cinammon, and salt instead of cinnamon and sugar.
I’ve had dried morels in my pantry for a bit, and my friend Dan has been challenging me to invent “s’morels” – s’mores somehow involving savory marshmallows and morel mushrooms. The snag on that has been a good vegetarian marshmallow recipe, but I still like the concept. Anyhow, that thought must have put me in the mindset to come up with this idea, where the morels make a soup for dipping the savory churros.
I still used some cocoa powder in the soup as well. The combination is pleasing. As in a mole, chocolate used without sugar provides a subtle, earthy, slightly bitter note that marries easily with the mushrooms.
For the final dish, I plan to froth the soup, serve it in a demitasse and use a star-shaped tip for the churros. Here is the recipe for the soup, which would also make a fine first course without the churros. It is rich, so plan on only about 1/2 cup per person.
Morel “Hot Chocolate” Soup
Serves 4 as a tiny appetizer, preferably with churros rolled in pimenton and cinnamon
Vegetarian and gluten-free; not vegan
- 1.5 cups heavy cream
- 0.6 oz. dried morel mushrooms
- 2 teaspoons high quality cocoa powder (not Hershey’s please); I used Lake Champlain Chocolate
- 1/2 cup half & half
- sea salt
- Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the morels, and simmer on lowest possible heat for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat and allow to rest for 30 more minutes.
- Add the cocoa powder, half & half, and a couple pinches of salt.
- Puree very thoroughly in a blender, then strain through a fine mesh sieve.
- Taste and adjust the salt.
- To serve, reheat and then carefully froth with a handheld blender.