Recipe: Snickerdoodles

I tend to make treats to bring to work for birthdays, celebrations, to reward people for doing well on a shoot, or when we’ve all had a rough week and I think we need a little pick-me-up. After the hiccups I encountered making these, though, I’m pretty sure I can be excused for having a couple right then and there – because, wow, did I run into some problems!

I took a recipe that I found scribbled in an old notebook and tried to make sense of it. No brown sugar mentioned, no size for scooping out the dough, and what seemed like an absurdly short baking time. Was I drunk when I wrote this recipe out?

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Big balls or little balls? You be the judge.

When I thought I’d worked it all out – translating the white sugar in my original to a mix of brown sugar and raw cane sugar, for example – I set about making the cookies. After the first baking tray came out of the oven, though, I knew I had a serious issue.

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Why so tall? So frustrating.

How in the world did these cookies not spread out even a little bit in the oven? The dough was a tad stiff, sure, but not so much that there should have been a problem. They were also a little dry, so that was yet another thing to be resolved.

It turns out, my dough balls needed to be flattened, which lends these cookies a rather delightful, rustic appearance. And to prevent dryness, I baked them at a slightly lower temperature and for less time than I estimated I’d need.

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Squish squish squish.

The result? Snickerdoodles with just the right amount of crunch on the top, and perfectly chewy middles that had the zing of an old-fashioned snickerdoodle but none of the cloying too-sweet aftertaste. Using smaller balls of dough will result in more crispness, which is fantastic for making ice cream cookies!

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Big ball version, pre-flattening: I made a tray of these and they turned out soft on the inside, crisp on the outside.

SNICKERDOODLES

Ingredients:

For cookie dough:
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup raw cane sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For topping:
2 tbsp. raw cane sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Method:
1. In a medium bowl, mix flour, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda together.
2. In your standing mixer bowl, or large mixing bowl for handheld mixers, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time.
3. Slowly stir in dry ingredients until fully incorporated.
4. Preheat oven to 325F. Grease or line four baking sheets (I used four different sized ones because that’s what I have, but if you only have one, make sure you have a cooling rack at the ready). Mix together sugar and cinnamon for topping.
5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls for smaller cookies, or use an ice cream scoop for larger cookies. Drop balls of dough into sugar-cinnamon mixture and make sure each ball is thoroughly coated before placing on cookie sheet, with each ball about 2 inches apart from the others.
6. Flatten balls with the palm of your hand. I tend to use the heel of my hand at first, then roll up to the bottom of the palm because my hands aren’t flat. Whatever works to get these cookies a little flatter than balls – I’d say about 1/4-1/2 inch thick should suffice.
7. Bake for 8-10 minutes, checking after 8 minutes. Some ovens will take longer, so just check every minute if they’re not done after 8. You’ll know they’re done when they are just solid enough to lift up from the tray with a spatula without falling apart.
8. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They should keep for about a week, or longer in the refrigerator.

Makes 18-36 cookies, depending on size.

 

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