Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Second snow day here since Pitt is officially closed.  The only downside to this snow that I can see is that I am beginning to run out of baking supplies and only have limited access to the grocery store.  Sure, I have enough real food, but flour?  And butter?  Eeek.  Anyway, on with it.

The smell of cinnamon filled my apartment on Sunday.  Cinnamon.  Loads and loads of cinnamon.  Is there a more heart-warming smell on the planet?  I think not.  These cookies were made for cold, snowed-in days, when you don't want to open your door or window unless it's an absolute emergency... like taking pictures of the outside blizzard.  Anyway, growing up I know I've had these cookies many times, but never got the big fuss.  "So what?  It's just a snickerdoodle.  There's not even chocolate in it?"  Oh, young Katy, there were so many things you needed to learn.  One being an appreciation for all things cinnamon.  Maybe it's just a more mature taste, who knows.  Sidebar -- try a dash of cinnamon on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  In looooooooooooove.

Before I made these classic cookies, I wanted to know just where the funny name "snickerdoodle" originated.  According to Wikipedia, "The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln, which means "snail dumpling." A different author suggests that the word "snicker" comes from the Dutch word snekrad, or the German word Schnecke, which both describe a snail-like shape. Yet another theory suggests that the name comes from a New England tradition of fanciful, whimsical cookie names. There is also a series of tall tales about a hero named "Snickerdoodle" from the early 1900s which may be related to the name of the cookie."  I took seven years of German and somehow this cookie legend eluded me?  What the heck.

One trademark of these cookies is the presence of cream of tartar.  The slight acidity of this salt (yes, cream of tartar is a salt), when combined with baking soda, helps to lighten and raise the cookie dough, producing a cracked appearance and chewy texture.  In my search for the right recipe, I saw some that used half butter and half vegetable shortening and others that used all butter.  Shortening produces a slightly crisper cookie, while butter creates a chewy and spread out cookie.  Based on how chewy mine came out, I'm glad I didn't use all butter.  Just a heads up.

(from Martha Stewart)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups + 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F with racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy -- about 3 minutes.  Add eggs, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed, and mix until combined.  Add flour mixture and beat on low until combined.  In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup granulated sugar and cinnamon.

Using a small ice cream scoop or spoons, form walnut sized-balls of dough, round and roll in cinnamon mixture.  Place on cookie sheet, keeping a healthy space between each ball of dough, as these spread during baking. With two prepared sheets of dough in the oven, one on the top rack and one on the bottom, bake 5 minutes, rotate position of sheets (top to bottom, bottom to top) and bake another 5 minutes until cookies are cracking and center is set.  Don't wait for them to brown or look dry -- they will firm up as they cool.

Remove sheets to a cooling rack for 5 minutes before removing cookies from sheets to rack to cool completely.  Store up to a week in a sealed container.  Serve with milk for the most all-over sensory-warming cookie experience of the winter :)

1 comment:

  1. Cinnamon is one of my favorites - we've been doing a lot of baking with cinnamon lately. Cinnamon with chocolate, cinnamon with espresso, cinnamon with chocolate & espresso... yum!