Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Cookie of the Week - Snickerdoodles

I started my holiday baking early this year because … does anyone really need a reason to start their holiday baking early? Maybe it’s because of all the pre-Thanksgiving Black Friday sales that it feels like the Christmas season is upon us.

Christmas cookie baking was not a tradition in my family, so I am unfamiliar with a lot of the traditional recipes. I saw this recipe on the Martha Stewart site last year, but ran out of time before I could try it out. So I bookmarked it for this year. I just liked the name.

I was kind of at loose ends this weekend, craving something sweet but feeling too lazy to bake anything complicated. Cookies came to mind, then Christmas cookies and Snickerdoodles popped up. It seemed like an easy and fun recipe to try.

A and I recently attended a cooking class sponsored by Taste of Home. One of the things I learned was that the difference between parchment paper and wax paper is that parchment paper has more paper than wax and wax paper has more wax than paper. I’ve been substituting wax paper for years because it’s what I have on hand. I’m more confident now in my substitution and didn’t hesitate to line my cookie sheets with wax paper rather than Martha’s recommended parchment paper.

She doesn’t say whether the butter should be softened or not, so relying on my years of baking experience, I softened the butter before using it. It didn’t affect the end result at all that I can tell.

Martha, perfectionist that she is, uses an ice cream scoop to form balls of dough. My ice cream scoop is like the ones used by “professional” ice cream scoopers rather than the round ones favored by Martha and her ilk. So I just used a spoon to scoop out small amounts of dough which I then hand rolled as I do for meatballs. Balls of batter are much more fragile than balls of meat, so they lost some of their shape, becoming a bit bumpy, when I rolled them in the cinnamon sugar. Fear not! They baked into attractive round cookies which did indeed spread quite a bit as they cooked.

I’m a much lazier cook than Martha, so I couldn’t be bothered with two baking sheets on different racks in the oven, rotating them halfway through their baking times. I baked my cookies one dozen at a time, one cookie sheet at a time in the middle of the oven and they came out perfectly.

As for the taste, well, that’s a little difficult because I’ve never tasted a Snickerdoodle before. I can say that I don’t care much for the taste of the cream of tartar and the amount of cinnamon needed to counteract that taste is too much. I felt like I had overdosed on cinnamon after eating only one cookie.

Verdict: Not bad, but I won’t be making this one again.


2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup pure vegetable shortening
1 ¾ cups sugar, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400°F, with one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and 1 ½ cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 ¼-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Makes 4 dozen.

Recycle: cream of tartar and cinnamon bottles

Compost: eggshells

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Hi! Found your blog because a friend recommended it. I don't much care for snickerdoodles either. Not my favorite.

Amen to lazy cooks!!

We do have a Christmas cookie making tradition that goes back as far as I can remember as a child - and my mom affectionately calls them, "The Christmas Cookies from Hell" :)

Have a good one!