The Science of Choux
“What’s a bad churro?” we ask Nuki Balaguer, owner of La Maripili-an enchanting and homely churreria in Alabang that’s stirring up quite the buzz. “I’ll show you what a good one is, and then you be the judge,” replies the former bankruptcy lawyer with a smile.
As she holds up a piece of churro before us, she beams with pride at the handiwork, snapping the deep-fried dough into two. You can hear the crisp cackle of its perfectly golden brown crust. This is how a churro should be: crunchy on the outside but with a chewy soft pastry on the inside, choux-like and lightweight. It shouldn’t be too oily, she says, and the hot chocolate (not called a dip) shouldn’t be sickeningly sweet. At La Maripili, Nuki notes that the hot chocolate is made with a locally sourced Criollo bean from Davao, a fine bean that composes a premium bar of chocolate. “The Philippines actually makes very good world-class chocolate,” she says to her inexperienced audience.
To churro purists, La Maripili prides itself on making churros by the book-a meticulous cooking process that involves precise heating temperatures and only the best ingredients. To determine why the churros here are a cut above the rest, Nuki emphasizes: for starters, they need to be a certain size, cooked in hot oil at 220 degrees, and made with a specific type of flour and water, also heated to a careful temperature before being formed into a dough. If done right, what you get is a churro as it should be-nice and buttery in flavor, a perfect delectable texture, and just a little nutty aftertaste from the oil. It is delicious. Choose to order their traditional churros, or try their more playful variants. La Maripili has spun a creative menu for the curious. They have stuffed churros, cream- filled with flavors like coconut, mojito, or chocolate and chili mousse. But a personal favorite is one of their savory options. The churro with chorizo and honey is the one that leaves a lasting impression, made with just the right amounts of salty, sweet, and spicy. The best part is it’s only 40 bucks apiece.
This is the kind of place you dream of visiting for idle mornings in the city, and the great part about this churreria is that they go beyond the churro. Liken it to a boulangerie, inspired by breakfasts from various parts of Spain. “In Barcelona, it’s more of the toasts that we have for breakfast. In Catalonia, what’s typical is the croissants with different fillings.” Here, they offer both. Their La Espan?olita toast is simple yet flavorful, open- faced Farmer’s Bread (made fresh by a French baker) slathered on with grated organic tomatoes, olive oil, and generous amounts of jamon Serrano. Pair this dish with a decent cappuccino, and it’s a great starter for the day. Available for takeout too if you need to quickly run to work.
Veer away from the usual -silog combos and introduce a new habit at La Maripili. Mornings might be sweeter for everyone.
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.