Browsing through my previous posts, I noted that the last seven have all been about savory recipes. Now that's pretty troubling for someone with a sweet tooth as big as mine. So I opted to do myself (and probably you) a favor and make this post a sweet one. In fact, it's sweeter than sweet. This is the very reason why I blog, to connect with people, to share my recipes and stories. And occasionally, those people I connect with via this leisurely past time make it to Brunei and they suddenly become real, in-the-flesh people. Or in this case, the real spouse of a fellow blogger.
Sometime last year, I connected with Lilly of Fuzz Free Food blog and our very similar sense of humor made us fast friends. To cut a long story short, her husband Joe has come over to Brunei to work here for several months and she'd sent some foodie gifts from the Netherlands via Joe.
This is Joe, I made him pose for Lilly (taken by iPhone).
When I finally met Joe, I got the chance to speak to Lilly on Joe's phone and guess what - her energy reverberated across the distance and she sounded exactly as I'd imagined her, full of exuberance and warmth. Later on, I managed to pry from Joe the story about how they had met and I'm sure they wouldn't mind me re-telling this to the whole world because it really is interesting! Joe, an American from Texas, was attending his sister's wedding in Italy (she'd met her Italian husband on a plane - now that's another great story). He'd had some free time around the wedding so decided to tour Europe. Not knowing anyone there, he went on an online forum asking if anyone would be willing to show him around, and Lilly responded to his request! The rest, as they say, is history :). Proof that true love can exist anywhere if you open your heart to possibilities.
So one of the items Lilly sent me was Speculoos spice powder for baking cakes and cookies. The spice blend is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper. The very smell of it reminds me of Christmas treats in Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Nowadays, of course, speculoos cookies are available the whole year round and apart from that, some clever guy somewhere had also invented Speculoos peanut butter-like spread (Biscoff)... yay! Unfortunately we can't get any of these (spice and spread) in Brunei, so boo!
I didn't want to go down the usual cookie route, so I settled on these Speculoos Churros instead. To convince myself that they should be somewhat healthier, I fashioned them out of whole wheat flour and substituted the usual butter with olive oil. Of course, that was before I deep-fried them, dusted them with sugar and dipped them in bittersweet chocolate! Life should be all about balance, I think.
The only issue I had with these churros was that I couldn't pipe them, the whole wheat dough just wasn't as soft as a regular buttery choux. Well I tried, and busted my piping bags three times before it occured to me that maybe they would look as good if I simply rolled them. Much, much easier and they still tasted really good, which was the important thing.
So, many thanks again Lilly, for your lovely friendship and gifts. This recipe wouldn't have been created if I hadn't gotten to know you (and by proxy, Joe) and this is the kind of thing that makes my blogging journey much more meaningful in the long run.
Speculoos Whole Wheat Churros (Vegan)
Makes: 4 spirals
1 cup water
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon Speculoos spice powder
canola oil for frying
1/3 c. raw sugar or confectionary/icing sugar
1. In a saucepan, stir together water, two tablespoons of sugar, salt, and tablespoon of oil. Bring to a gentle boil, and remove from heat.
2. Dump in flour and stir to make a dough. Let dough cool for a few minutes, work while it is still warm, not cold or it won't be pliable.
3. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Using your hands, roll each dough on a clean surface into a long cylinder (about 1/2-inch thick), then twist to form a spiral. (Due to the absorbant wholewheat flour, this dough is too thick to pipe. I tried and my piping bags just kept bursting open!)
4. In a deep wok, frying pan or deep-fryer, heat frying oil to 350F (or medium high heat).
5. Lift the spirals using a slotted spoon and gently slide into the pan. Fry the strips for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until the outsides are a deep, golden brown. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove from oil, and drain on paper towels.
6. Stir together remaining sugar and cinnamon, then roll drained churros in sugar mixture. Serve warm, and enjoy!