Better than anything you'll get at the county fair! Cuddle-up with a plate of churros and a pot of hot chocolate - yum.
Churros are a Mexican pastry, and favorite fair food in the American southwest. I tried to steer clear of buying them from mobile vendors for years because they always seemed to be more grease than good.
When I came across this recipe in a Cuisine at home magazine, I was intrigued, so I made a trip to the Strip District to buy some cardamom. The trip was well worth the effort, as these churros were delicious, and easy as one, two, three, to assemble and fry. Regan and Richard agree!
1 gallon vegetable oil
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
grated zest of one small orange
3/4 cup flour
Note: if you absolutely can't find cardamom, don't worry about it. Cardamom is a delightfully different middle-eastern spice. It gives the churros their distinctive flavor, but the cinnamon/sugar mixture will do just fine in a pinch.
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet or chef's pan, until very hot (350 degrees). In a wide shallow dish, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Set aside.
Heat butter, water, 2 teaspoons sugar, salt, and orange zest (I used my microplane nutmeg grater to render a really finely grated zest), in a medium size saucepan. When mixture begins to boil, stir in the flour, mashing the lumps as they form. When the mixture is fully combined, and pulls away from the sides of the pan, remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and beat by hand for one minute. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate. Pastry should be shiny and gooey. Transfer dough to a pastry bag or tube, fitted with a 1/2 inch star tip.
Pipe 3-inch long strips of dough into the hot oil. Slice dough from end of piping tip with a paring knife dipped into frying oil. Fry churros until golden brown on both sides (about 2 minutes on each side). Its fun to watch them puff as they cook. Don't try to fit too many in your skillet at once or they'll grow together.
Remove the churros from oil, and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Immediately coat each with the sugar and spice mixture, and enjoy while warm.