For me, spring means one thing: dirt. Lots and lots of dirt. Right now dirt has made its way into my days via seed starting. In the kitchen, little pots and egg cartons filled to the brim are covering every available surface that the sun touches, even ever so briefly, throughout the day. My post from exactly a year ago rings just as true today:
Burton is being as nurturing as ever, it’s rare I see him without a spray bottle and seedling in his hand, playing musical-windowsills as the sunlight slinks through different parts of the apartment. Last spring it was impossible to find any tupperware in the kitchen; every night he’d bring them all outside to use as makeshift greenhouses: shelter for the baby plants from the cruel, windy nights and humid little domes come morning sun.
In a month, I’ll be digging in the cold, wet dirt and frustratingly, to no end, scrubbing it out from underneath my fingernails. I’ll be slipping, in the meddlesome combination of dirt + water, down hills on the Milwaukee River trail; washing it off radishes and, trying my darndest, triple-rinsing the lettuce only to still have my fair share of gritty salads.
My favorite holiday also falls in spring: June 1st, the biggest moving day of the year (especially for college kids, the most wasteful of them all). The alleys are overflowing with trash, you can hardly get to the end of your block before having to head back home to drop off your spoils. Last year, my friend Kiefer and I found a ~15 foot tall trash-mountain on the most splendid of holidays (as we were digging through it, a dude who the trash pile belonged to defensively explained how ‘it wasn’t all his’. Yeah right, you poor slob). I got some trash from that mountain that is amongst my favorite finds. With more than enough to go around, it’s a day where pickers help other pickers, “did you see that bed frame on the corner?” It will always be my favorite holiday..and how could it not be, when I find things like this trashcan-turned-planter collaged with Nixon pictures:
Okay, enough about trash and dirt. These little churro nests are the product of a lot of daydreaming and it’s obvious those dreams were filled with thoughts of spring. I knew I wanted to make something with lust-inducing combination of churros and horchata, but it wasn’t until I was playing with the dough that it came to me. It looks so much like a little nests! They are, without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and not difficult to make at all. Churro dough is one of the easiest I’ve ever worked with – it’s practically modeling clay. To make it even easier, you could use Nutella and a couple of pre-made cupcakes instead of making your own. The eggs are fine in the fridge for up to a week (if they make it that long..) and freeze decently too. As an optional addition, chipotle powder is really, really amazing in the hazelnut sauce.
Recipes after the break!
Horchata Cake Eggs
Makes 20 eggs
(Almond milk Horchata – makes extra)
1.5 cups almond milk
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
(Horchata cake eggs)
1.5 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 large egg
1/8 cup yogurt
1/8 cup almond milk Horchata (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
60g melted dark chocolate
200g melted white chocolate
Almond milk horchata – in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/2 cup almond milk with the honey, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg. Stir until fully incorporated. Remove from heat and add the rest of the almond milk (1 cup).
Horchata Cake Eggs – Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (not including the sugar). In a medium bowl, cream together 1 tbsp coconut oil, butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, then add the yogurt, horchata and vanilla. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients.
With the remaining tbsp of oil, grease a muffin tin. Pour in cake batter and bake for 25 minutes.
Once cool, finely shred 120g of cake. Mix in the 60g of dark chocolate, stirring until well combined. Using ~1 tbsp of the mixture, form into the shape of a small egg. Once all the eggs are formed, cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once cool, dip the eggs into the white chocolate. Carefully set the covered eggs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to dry. Once dried, you can further shape the eggs using a small pairing knife to remove the excess white chocolate coating.
2 cups raw hazelnuts
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey or white sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
(optional – 1 tbsp chipotle powder)
Preheat oven to 350 and roast the hazelnuts for ~10-15 minutes. Next, pour them into a jar, secure the lid and shake until most of the skins come off, at least a couple of minutes. Discard the skins. Add the nuts, along with the rest of the ingredients, to a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding a little more coconut oil to reach desired consistency if necessary.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
~1 quart of oil of choice for frying
a few tbsp of sugar, a little cinnamon and allspice, for dusting
In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar and oil to a boil. Remove from heat and mix in the flour until a dense ball is formed. Let cool completely, then add mixture to a piping bag fitted with a tip size of your choosing (in my opinion, using a smaller tip size makes the nests look better but it’s a lot more difficult to squeeze out. The churros pictured are using a standard/wide tip). Squeeze out the churros on a large, parchment-paper lined baking sheet in long ropes. Cool in the fridge for ~30 minutes.
Form the nests by spiraling the churros, making sure there are no holes for the hazelnut sauce to leek out.
In a small saucepan, over medium heat bring the oil to 350 degrees. Fry churros, one at a time, until golden brown (~3-5 minutes). Drain on paper towel then immediately toss in the cinnamon/allspice and sugar mixture.
Fill the nests with ~2 tbsp hazelnut sauce and 2 horchata cake eggs.