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Most of us are familiar with churros, the cinnamon-and-sugar-dusted, chewy-on-the-inside-but-crispy-on-the-outside fried dough that’s a dessert-menu staple at Mexican restaurants. Jose Manuel Marquez, however, is on a mission to convince Coloradans that churros can and should be devoured not just after dinner, but also as a midday snack and for breakfast, à la American doughnuts. “[In Spain], my father and I would go down to the churreria at 5 or 6 a.m. and wait in an hourlong line,” says Marquez, who hails from Andalusia’s Jerez de la Frontera. “You’d see the people making the churros fresh and smell the oil and the churros frying.” That’s why, this past December, the pastry pro opened Churreria de Madrid inside Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace with partners Lorena and Daniel Cantarovici (the couple behind Maria Empanada, where Marquez was a kitchen manager for five years). At the brightly lit food stall, where he also sells patatas bravas, Marquez encourages patrons to honor the Spanish tradition of dipping the sweet treats into rich melted chocolate. Here, we uncover what sets the golden fritters at Churreria de Madrid apart from the churros you already know and love.
Unlike Mexican churros, which often contain butter and eggs, Marquez’s dough is vegan. “It’s just flour, water, and salt,” he says. “Very, very simple.”
The dough gets pushed into a machine imported from Valladolid, Spain, which shapes and drops the churros into hot oil. Spanish renditions retain the familiar cylindrical star shape, but they tend to be shorter and thinner. The smaller size also makes the pastries less rigid, so they curl a bit at the ends.
In his homeland, olive oil is often employed, but Marquez prefers to fry his sticks in sunflower oil, which isn’t as easily absorbed into the churros. After two and a half minutes, he pulls them from the fryer and sets them out to dry on a wire draining board, getting rid of the excess oil.
There’s no cinnamon involved, which is the biggest difference between Mexican- and Spanish-style churros. Marquez’s traditional churros—$1 apiece or $9 for a coneful and a cup of drinking chocolate for dipping—are sugared to order. Or, opt for a larger, filled churro ($3) with your choice of dulce de leche, pastry cream, or Colorado-made jam piped into the middle.
This dark, thick goodness—made with 65 percent cacao, a little water, and a touch of sugar—is less sweet than Mexican versions, making it even more acceptable to enjoy first thing in the morning.