(Read this post if you’re wondering what inspired this churro cupcake throwdown.)
After some hefty research, I found three churro cupcake recipes that looked up to par.
I made all three recipes and had some friends over for a tasting. After some serious judging, I collected the ballots and the result was unanimous. Recipe A won by a landslide. All three cupcakes were really good, but A delivered on every churro replicating level – texture, flavor, and mouth feel. Here are the actual comments collected from the judges:
Recipe A – loved the filling, very creamy and smooth, cinnamon stick was perfect, good cake texture, loved the frosting, the cinnamon stick was awesome, favorite, great mouth feel and flavor, dolce de leche added moisture, crisp adds churro texture, best flavor, texture, I loved the stick, it was the best, very light and fluffy
Recipe B – good, but cinnamon was not quite as strong, cake was sorta dry-ish, good frosting, it was ok, not enough flavor, dense, more muffin like, was ok should have tasted it first because A was so good, very good
Recipe C – cake was more dense than the others, really loved the frosting, the taste was a lot more like a churro, strongest cinnamon flavor, better than B but not A, even more dense than B but less sweet, frosting seemed smoother than B
The photo below shows A (bottom), B, and C (top).
Let’s make the winning cupcakes.
The ingredient line up:
To begin, make sure the eggs, butter, and cream cheese are at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Measure out the dry ingredients into a bowl.
In a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix it up til fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time. Mix.
Get some good vanilla (none of that artificial stuff). Put it in now.
This is an important part, so pay attention. Add a third of the dry ingredients and mix, just until combined.
Now add half of the milk and mix. Alternate until all the milk and dry ingredients are used.
End with the dry ingredients.
That last bit of dry ingredients evens out the texture perfectly. It should look like this.
Line a cupcake pan with liners of your choice and fill them three-fourths of the way full. Put them in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
When you take them out they will look like this.
Now the cinnamon frosting. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
Add the cinnamon and that good vanilla you used earlier.
Mix, mix, mix.
Add a whole lot of powdered sugar and it will look like this.
The garnish is what makes these cupcakes. Start by heating some oil on medium-high heat. Then cut up a couple of tortillas into slices, get a paper towel, and mix together sugar and cinnamon.
Once the oil is hot, throw in a couple of the tortilla sticks. Make sure not to crowd the pan.
Flip them over when they get golden brown, they only take a few seconds so don’t walk away.
Remove them from the pan and let them drain briefly on the the paper towel.
Immediately put them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still hot.
They will look like this when you’re done. Put them in a really cute Mickey bowl (from Target) and do yourself a favor and make a lot of extra. They are addicting.
Time to assemble the cupcake. Make a hole in the cupcake for our filling (I use an apple corer).
Fill with warmed Dulce de Leche.
Frost and add the crispy cinnamon sticks. Admire your beautiful creation.
This cupcake delivered on taste, texture, and the cinnamon factor. The cupcake itself was so soft and fluffy, it really balances out the creaminess of the frosting. This frosting is a home run. The cinnamon flavor is right on and the texture is creamy and smooth. The crunchy tortillas strips add the needed crunch that mimics a churro. All in all you have everything, the soft center of the churro, the crunchy exterior, and the cinnamon mouth feel that we all know and love.
Recipe slightly modified from The Curvy Carrot
Servings: approximately 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
3 cups cake flour
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1 can (14.1 ounces) of store-bought Dulce de Leche (or make your own)
For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups powdered sugar
For the fried tortillas:
Two or three 8-inch flour tortillas, cut longitudinally into 1/2-inch wide strips
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar, mixed to your liking of desired sweetness
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line your muffin tin with the desired liners of your choice. In a large bowl, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, cinnamon, and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla, mixing well. Reduce the mixer to low speed and add one-third of the flour mixture. Add one-half of the milk, then alternate with another one-third of the flour mixture. Add the remaining milk, and then add the last one-third of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Divide the mixture evenly among your prepared pan, and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature before filling and frosting.
In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, mix the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and cinnamon until well combined. Reduce the mixer to low speed, and gradually add the powdered sugar until mixed. (Feel free to add more for a thicker consistency.)
In a deep frying pan, heat the oil (about 3/4-inch in depth) on medium heat until very hot. (Test this by putting in a small piece of tortilla). Fry only a few of the tortilla strips at a time, turning them with tongs until lightly browned on both sides (about 5-10 seconds on each side). Place the strips on paper towel, and, while they are still warm, place in the cinnamon-sugar combination. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.
Using a small mellon baller, a knife, or an apple corer, gently cut a cone-shaped portion of cake out of the center of each cupcake from the top. Using a spoon, fill each cupcake with your desired amount of Dulce de Leche. Pipe the frosting over the tops of each cupcake with a large star tip (to mimic the shape of the churro).