Vanilla beans are a wonderful ingredient to use when baking and I love using them in everything from cakes to chocolates. After working with vanilla beans, I always toss the leftover beans in a container of sugar. This is how I make vanilla bean sugar (you can make it with un-used beans, as well), which I use for topping muffins, oatmeal and just about anything else that needs a bit of sweetening. These Vanilla Bean Mini Churros are another great use for the sugar, which I use to roll the churros in instead of the usual cinnamon sugar mixture. The result is a churro that is crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and perfectly vanilla-scented on the outside. I’m a huge churro fan and I love this little twist.
I used a round pastry tip to make these mini churros, which is why they don’t have the furrows that you typically see on theme-park churros. The furrows are good for catching and holding onto the sugar that the churros are rolled in after frying, so you’ll get an even more sugary crust if you use a large star tip. I opted for a round tip simply because I didn’t have a star tip handy when I was ready to pipe and I wanted to eat freshly made churros more than I wanted to hunt around for one. Churros made with a round tip are just as delicious and you’ll still get plenty of sugar to adhere to them, so don’t worry if you have to compromise on your pastry tip like I did.
The mini churros should be about 3- or 4-inches long, which is enough for two or three bites. If you made them any smaller, you would end up with more of a ball (like a donut hole) than a churro. If you make them too long, they’ll start to curve around into a loop. The looped churros are still delicious, but we’re aiming for short and straight ones here! The churros are best when the are fresh, so be prepared to eat them right away!
Vanilla Bean Mini Churros
1 cup all purpose flour (4.25 oz), sifted
1 1/4 cups water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
oil, for frying
1 1/2 cups homemade vanilla bean sugar
In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar and salt and bring mixture to a boil.
When the mixture is boiling, add in flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms, about 1-2 minutes. Continue to stir and cook the dough for about 1 minute. The dough will become somewhat elastic and will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan slightly. Turn off the heat.
Transfer the hot dough to a large mixing bowl or to the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Turn the mixer on medium and beat the dough for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is no longer hot to the touch. This can be done by hand, using a spoon or spatula.
When the dough is no longer hot, beat in the eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been well-incorporated before adding the next. Batter may look wet before it comes together, but keep mixing and a smooth dough will form.
Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip and set aside while you heat up the oil.
Pour about 2-inches of oil into a deep saucepan. Bring the oil to about 365°F.
Pipe the churro dough directly over the hot oil, shaping it into 3-4-inch lengths. Use a paring knife to cut off the flow of the dough and don’t worry if the shapes aren’t perfect. Pipe 2-3 churros into the oil at a time, depending on the size of your pan.
Fry churros for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown, then flip and cook until golden on the second side.
Remove churros from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined pan for 2-3 minutes.
Roll generously in the vanilla sugar and serve when still slightly warm.