Do you love Costco? I do. I have so many memories of Costco trips when I was growing up. We loved to go because you never knew what exciting thing you'd see there. (Vermont is not known for being the most happening place, so believe me, Costco really was exciting to us.) Now that all of us kids are grown and out of the house, my parents give all of us memberships for our birthdays. It's pretty awesome.
One reason it is so awesome is the food court. You know you've got a serious shopping endeavor when you need to take a break for lunch - kind of like going to the mall. The food at the Costco food court is cheap, of course, and generally pretty good. There may have been times when my husband and I have gone out to dinner there.
Yes, we're super classy.
One of the best items in the food court has to be the churros. For a dollar you can get the biggest churro I've ever seen, warm and fluffy with a generous coating of cinnamon sugar. It's the kind of thing you eat before your meal because you want to have it warm, and then you realize you don't have any room for the Caesar salad you bought. If you're feeling really decadent, you can get some vanilla soft serve too and use it to dip your churro in. I'm not saying I've done this and that it's delicious. I'm just saying you could.
Being in the Mexican food frame of mind with Cinco de Mayo coming up, I've had churros on the brain lately. My husband and I were driving somewhere when out of the blue I said, "What about a churro cookie?" We both agreed it sounded pretty good. Of course, the next few days I couldn't stop thinking of how I'd do it.
I wanted the final cookies to be soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, and coated with cinnamon sugar. And to look like little churros. For the soft inside, I decided to use one of my favorite soft sugar cookie recipes. I love the texture and flavor of it, and knew it wouldn't compete with the cinnamon sugar. I also knew it had no real "tang" to it, so the finished cookies would be different from snickerdoodles. For the crispy outside, I tried a couple different ways of coating the cookies with cinnamon sugar and found that by brushing them with melted butter and adding a generous amount of cinnamon sugar before baking, the finished cookie had a nice crust of semi-melted sugar once it was taken out of the oven. Score.
To shape the cookies, I rolled them into logs and then refrigerated them for a bit. I found the best way to get the little churro stripes was to take a wooden skewer and indent the cookies right after baking when they were still hot. Adding the stripes before baking worked too, but the lines weren't as sharp once the cookies were done baking.
Although they aren't as pretty, if you want your cookies to be over-the-top cinnamon-sugary, you can brush the cooled cookies with another layer of butter and sprinkle on more cinnamon sugar. It will be a buttery, sweet overload. And delicious. Either way you decide to eat them, the finished cookies are just plain good. They're soft on the inside, with a thick layer of cinnamon sugar on the outside and all around as wonderful as they churros they are named after.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar (see note below)
1/4 tsp salt
16 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and softened
2 T cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2T melted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2T plus 2 tsp cinnamon
Note: If you can't find superfine sugar, simply process 1 cup granulated sugar in a food processor for about 30 seconds, then measure out 3/4 cup for the recipe.
1. Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time. Continue to beat the flour-butter mixture until it looks crumbly and slightly wet, 1-2 minutes.
2. Beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until the dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Knead the dough in the bowl by hand a few times until it forms a large cohesive mass.
3. Roll cookie dough into rods about 3/4-1 inch in diameter. Cut the rods into 3 inch pieces, place on a plate and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 2T plus 2tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookies on a baking sheet, with about an inch between each cookie. Using a pastry brush, brush each cookie with melted butter, and then sprinkle with a generous amount of cinnamon sugar mixture.
5. Bake cookies for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and immediately place indentations lengthwise along the cookies using a wooden skewer. Let cookies cool for five minutes on the cookie sheet, then place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Optional - For more cinnamon-sugar flavor, brush cooled cookies with more melted butter and sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar.
Recipe source: base cookie dough from America's Test Kitchen