Start to Finish: 60 minutes
Churros are a traditional Spanish breakfast, snack or dessert. Historically eaten by shepherds, churros were light, sweet and warming. While churros can be eaten plain, they are more commonly served sweetened, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and served with a sweet dipping sauce on the side. This recipe for spiced churros is adapted by ones from Saveur and the BBC.
Boil the butter, salt, vanilla extract and all the spices — ground and whole — with the water in a medium-size saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes at a rolling boil, then lower the heat to medium-high and remove the whole cloves and cinnamon stick.
Blend the flour and baking powder in a medium-size mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg.
Gradually add the flour blend to the butter mix in the pot. Cook on medium heat, and stir constantly while the flour is being added.
Continue cooking and stirring after all the flour has been added, roughly for 5 minutes. A smooth, wet dough will have formed.
Scrape the dough into a large mixing bowl, and add the beaten egg, stirring until fully incorporated and the dough is once again smooth.
Fit a piping bag with a 3/8-inch star tip, and let the dough rest, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Fill a large pot 1/3 of the way with vegetable oil and heat on medium-high until the temperature reads 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a quick-read thermometer.
Line a large plate with paper towel, and fill a second plate with the ingredients for the sugar coating. Stir the sugar and ground spices with a fork to fully incorporate.
Pipe pieces of dough directly onto the hot oil, making strips around 4 to 6 inches long. Pipe no more than 2 to 3 strips at a time.
Turn the strips occasionally using a pair of metal tongs. Fry until the dough is a rich, golden brown color on all sides, around 2 minutes.
Transfer the crisp, fried churros to the paper towel-lined plate using metal tongs or a slotted spoon. Pipe another set of strips into the oil, then roll the still-hot fried churros in the sugar and spice blend, coating all sides.
Serve immediately, while still warm.
Make sure the oil stays no more than 5 degrees cooler than 400 F when frying. Oil that is too cool will lead to soggy and pale-colored churros.
Change the spice blends in the churro coating and batter to suit personal taste. In addition to mixes of allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, clove and nutmeg, consider using vanilla beans, rose water, ginger powder and lemon or orange zest to flavor the churros.
Serve the churros as is, coated in the sugar, or with a chocolate or caramel dipping sauce.