When I think of churros, I think of theme parks. At Disneyland, they were always one of my favorite in-between-ride treats. These churro cookies taste remarkably like a snickerdoodle - they're based on a soft sugar cookie recipe, coated with cinnamon-sugar - but they have the cute look of a churro. Or a mini-churro, I guess. Soft, just a little chewy, deeply cinnamony, they taste delicious and would be especially perfect for a Mexican-themed fiesta. They were Nicole's brain-child, and I think they're adorable, easy, and fun to make. They also happen to be egg-free, so a perfect recipe for those with egg allergies! (I feel like I don't come across too many of those.)
Nicole instructs the baker to form the dough into logs and refrigerate it before baking, then use a wooden skewer to indent the cookies. I did that, but my cookies definitely flattened out more than hers. I wonder if refrigerating them longer might have kept the end result rounder. But since my kids took them for churros, I'm pretty sure the distinctive shape made them identifiable enough.
2 1/2 cups (10 5/8 ounces) flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) superfine sugar*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2" pieces and softened
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of salt
*As a substitute for superfine sugar, process 1 cup sugar in a food process for about 30 seconds, and then measure out 3/4 cup for the recipe.
Whisk the flour, superfine sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. (I used the bowl of my Kitchen Aid mixer.) With the mixer on medium-low, beat in the softened butter to the flour mixture, one piece at a time. Beat until mixture is crumbly and slightly wet, 1-2 minutes. Then beat in the cream cheese and vanilla until the dough begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds. Knead the dough by hand a few times until it forms a large, cohesive mass.
Roll the cookie dough into logs about 3/4" to 1" in diameter. Cut the rods into 3" pieces, place on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment with about an inch between cookies. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Make the cinnamon sugar by combining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and pinch of salt.
Heat the oven to 350F. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in a small dish. Using a pastry brush, brush each cookie with melted butter and then sprinkle it generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, and then remove from the oven and immediately use a wooden skewer to make three indentations lengthwise on each cookie. Cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, and then remove cookies to a rack to cool completely.
Optional: For even more cinnamon-sugar flavor, brush the cooled cookies with more melted butter and sprinkle again with cinnamon sugar.