Chocolate For Breakfast
Xurros amb xocolata sal marina (Churros with sea salt chocolate)
Written by Kieran Creevy | Photography by Claire Burge
Stepping off the swaying bridge and onto the metal walkway high above the river we slide our backs down the warm stone, and dangle our feet over the drop. Firing up the camping stove that morning in the Ras de Carança refuge with snow lying heavy on the ground outside, the smell of coffee gets other heads peering from sleeping bag hoods.
We tuck in to a classic Spanish breakfast of churros with thick chocolate. This simple food and the view outside inspire our bodies to move for the coming day. As we zigzag across the gorge walls we move from early summer to winter temperatures and back again. Someone suggests hunting out the natural spring in the valley below, so we dump our packs and step lightly over twigs and squish through mud until we find a small pool in the forest.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 cup plain flour
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
Icing sugar (for dusting)
200g dark chocolate (75% minimum)
1/2 cup goats’ milk
1 – 2 tsp coarse sea salt
200 – 300ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
Churrera (available online from approx £10.00) OR
Piping bag and large star shaped nozzle
Pour the water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the flour and salt to the boiling water, beat vigorously with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. When the dough is cool, transfer to a food mixer and beat on the lowest setting, adding one egg at a time. Make sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next, the dough should be shiny but not wet. Transfer to an airtight container for transport.
Pour the goats’ milk into a deep saucepan and heat gently. Break the chocolate into squares, add slowly to the milk, stirring constantly. When completely melted, grind the sea salt into the liquid chocolate mix, then pour into four narrow glasses. I prefer to use small jam jars in place of glasses you can store food in them on the way to camp then reuse for serving.
Transfer the dough to the Churrera or the piping bag. Clean the saucepan, place on a high heat and add the rapeseed oil.
Heat to roughly 180c – as a guide, drop a square of bread into the oil, it should crisp up in roughly 15 seconds.
Squeeze the dough into the hot oil in 4 – 6 inch lengths and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, they should be golden brown and crispy. Don’t cook too many at the same time as the oil temperature will drop and the churros will become greasy. Remove to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain excess oil and dust with icing sugar.
Eat the churros dipped into the thick warm chocolate, serve with good espresso for a double early-morning kickstart.
Add orange zest to the dough.
Store the icing sugar with some scraped vanilla pod, or dried lavender flowers.
If the above sugar hit seems a little too tame, you could try the Argentinian version in which the churros are filled with Dulce de Leche.
In addition to fifteen years work as an international mountain leader and trekking guide on five continents, Kieran has nearly two decades experience of catering for some of the most demanding customers – fellow instructors who want nutritious food with a bit flair, lots of it, now and don’t care that it’s minus 10c and snowing!Twitter @kierancreevy
Claire has been described as part chaos, part rocket fuel. When she is isn’t racing down mountains on her bicycle, you will find her behind a lens and licking the wooden spoon.Twitter @claireburge
Lizalet Oosthuizen is a dietitian and food enthusiast with a love for cooking and adventure. She has joined the team as the food stylist, but mostly it’s an excuse to taste Kieran’s delicious food.