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Snickerdoodle Cookies

March 23, 2012

Snickerdoodle cookies are my husband’s absolute favorite cookie.  I remember once, we were grocery shopping, and near the checkout line where our grocer puts out cookies and muffins and cakes for customers to peruse through as they are waiting to check out, there was a box of snickerdoodles.  Immediately, my husband’s face lit up like a little kid’s at Christmas and he said “Snickerdoodles!  I’m getting a box and you can’t stop me.”  It was the cutest thing.

I subscribe to a couple of food e-magazines that come in my email inbox every couple of days.  As we were just starting fall, one of them had a story about 15 easy-to-make fall cookies.  On the list was snickerdoodles.  Once I took a look at the recipe, I knew I had to make it for my husband.  He’d be over the moon.

In its most basic form, a snickerdoodle is basically a sugar cookie, where the batter is rolled in cinnamon sugar before being baked.  The most prominent characteristic of a snickerdoodle cookie is its cracked surface.  The cookie can be either soft or crispy depending on how you make the batter and how long you bake it for.  Traditional recipes called for cream of tartar as the leavening agent in the batter of the cookie, but most recipes these days tend to call for baking powder instead.

Why the cookie is called a snickerdoodle remains a mystery.  There are multiple theories the name could be German in origin, or Dutch perhaps.  Yet another theory, says that it originated in New England back during a period when they used to come up with whimsical names for cookies.

However the name came to be really has no bearing on the fact that these are some phenomenal cookies.  I think part of the reason why my husband loves them so much is that they’re made with cinnamon, which he absolutely loves.  The recipe I borrowed is so super simple, and incredibly delicious that I already know that I’ll be making these cookies again.  It’s so simple that even those who don’t like to bake, and feel like they don’t have the proper equipment to make a batter can make this cookie.  It doesn’t require a stand mixer or a hand mixer.  As long as you have a bowl that you can use to combine all the ingredients, you’re good to go!  Additionally, the recipe I used was for making super soft and chewy snickerdoodle cookies.  My husband and I happen to love soft and chewy cookies as opposed to thin, crispy cookies.

Let’s get down to business.  The recipe calls for: unsalted butter sticks, eggs, vanilla extract, flour, white sugar, cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt, eggs and baking powder.  I will admit, I don’t have nutmeg in my pantry (gotta get some of that at some point) so I decided to take the liberty to substitute the nutmeg with pumpkin pie spice (which I do have for some odd reason, even though I don’t like pumpkin pie…).  Since pumpkin pie spice is made up mainly of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, my husband had suggested that I could just use it instead.  I figured that wasn’t a bad idea.  So, the two times where nutmeg was called for, I used about half the amount of pumpkin pie spice.  I figured, since the spice wasn’t entirely made from nutmeg, I didn’t want my cookies tasting too much like pumpkin pie.  Besides, it meant that I was adding more cinnamon to the recipe than it called for too.  In the end, the cookie was brilliant, and the cinnamon I did use didn’t really take on that strong of a taste, which was perfect.

You start with melting the sticks of butter gently in a saucepan on the stove top.  I guess you could also microwave the butter gently in the microwave in a microwave safe dish if you didn’t want to bother with the stove.  Once the butter has melted completely, turn off the heat and set the butter aside to cool.

The next step is to mix all the dry ingredients together.  This recipe called for dark brown sugar.  Unfortunately, unknown to me, I had dark brown sugar, but just didn’t see it.  So, I used light brown sugar instead.  In reality, it’s up to personal taste preference as to dark brown vs light brown sugar.  Brown sugar, at its core is a mixture of white sugar and molasses.  Light brown sugar contains less molasses, so it has a lighter taste.  Dark brown sugar is darker in color because of the higher molasses content, therefore giving off a much more intense molasses flavor.  If I had seen the dark brown sugar, I would have used it.  In retrospect the stronger molasses flavor would probably be really good in the cookie.  But then again, I like molasses cookies.  Whenever using any sort of brown sugar in a recipe, remember to pack the sugar into the measuring cup.

After the brown sugar comes the white sugar.  You need the combination of both sugars because using only brown sugar would make the cookie too sweet, due to the molasses.  Using a mixture of the two creates the milder, less intense sugar flavor you’re looking for, while adding enough sugar to the dough.

Of course, you can’t have dough without flour.

Lastly, to the dry ingredients, you need to add the flavoring agents.  A sprinkle of salt, it helps bring out the flavors.  Then cinnamon, nutmeg (or in my case pumpkin pie spice) and finally the baking soda.

Hopefully, by this time, the melted butter has cooled.  It’s now time to work on the wet ingredients.  To the melted butter, you need to whisk in the eggs.  This is why you need the butter to have cooled.  We’re not trying to cook eggs here, just incorporate them into the butter.  Keep whisking until the 2 ingredients have come together and start to look almost like a thick light yellowish glaze.  Some traditional snickerdoodle recipe’s don’t call for eggs.  But in this case, the eggs are what help to make this a really like and soft and chewy cookie.  With the addition of eggs, the batter becomes fluffy and a little more cake-like.  Once the eggs and butter are whisked together, add vanilla extract to the wet mixture.

Now it’s time to combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  The beauty of this recipe is that you don’t need any fancy stand mixers or hand mixers.  Just pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and use a wire whisk or even a fork to stir them all together and combine them.

You want to be careful and only mix them until they are just combined.  Over mixing the batter causes the batter to lose its air and deflate leaving you with a crispier cookie that doesn’t rise as much.  You should end up with a very wet batter that is light brown in color (almost like peanut butter) that has a nice sheen to it (due to the melted butter).

It’s now time to make the cinnamon sugar.  In a separate bowl mix together cinnamon, white sugar and nutmeg (or a dash of pumpkin pie spice).  Combine the ingredients really well.  You now have cinnamon sugar.

Take your dough and roll it into 1 to 1.5 half inch balls.  Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar so that the cinnamon sugar coast the entire dough ball.

Place the dough balls onto an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet.  There is enough butter in the dough that greasing or lining the cookie sheet is unnecessary.  Believe me, these bad boys won’t stick.  Once you’ve got all the dough balls covered in cinnamon sugar and on the cookie sheet, use your fingers to press the dough down a little bit.

Pop the cookie sheet into your preheated 425 degree oven.  This cookie only requires 5-7 minutes of baking.  It’s done in a flash.  Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and let the cookies rest for another 5-7 minutes before transferring to them a cooling rack.

The cookies should have that classic cracked surface caused by the rising dough cracking the cinnamon sugar-coating.  Your cookies will end up a little crunchy on the bottom (depending on how long they were in the oven) and soft and chewy and moist on top.  Your house will smell like warm, fragrant cinnamon.  These cookies were so good, and so soft and chewy that the next evening, my husband couldn’t help himself and ate the rest of the cookies from the cookie jar.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Malou permalink
    March 27, 2012 2:42 pm

    Great recipe, Alisa. I love cinnamon cookies. 😉

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