Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Snickerdoodles; I think I'm finally getting it
Lat week was a hard week. My husband took the entire week off from work. Both he and my oldest were attacked by chiggers on our recent camping trip, and are nursing about 900 bites between the two of them (I won't mention who is handling it better). My youngest, Sam, has a pretty bad shiner from where Max's airborne toy came in contact with his face. Also, it rained...and rained...and rained. All of these things conspired to keep me in the house most of the week, and I couldn't let those stormy days pass without baking something. But what to make? I got out my Baking Illustrated cookbook (I am borrowing it indefinitely from a chef friend that has no interest in baking). A pie...I'd have to run to the store; a cake...we would have leftovers and end up throwing half away; cookies...those would be just the thing.
I know people who claim snickerdoodles as their favorite cookie, and I've never understood that. In truth, I'd never had them homemade. Store-bought snickerdoodles seem like an overly sweet sugar cookie dusted with cinnamon. I'd never made them myself because they just seemed boring. Not bad, but why make snickerdoodles when you can make cookies with more exciting ingredients, like chocolate, or peanut butter, or chocolate, or nuts, or chocolate? I'm not sure why I paused this time to read the description under snickerdoodles. I have been reading a great deal of Robert Frost's poetry and writings, mentally spending time in New Hampshire, so maybe the fact that they are a New England favorite appealed to me. Also, I love to learn the etymology of names, and I read that the word snickerdoodle is a corruption of a German word meaning "crinkly noodle." These two things, the cloudy sky, and the promise of a cinnamon scented kitchen convinced me to give it a go.
I'm glad I did, because I have to say, I'm starting to get the deal with snickerdoodles. Homemade, they get that crisp/chewy, sweet/tangy contrast that makes them so much better than their cousin the sugar cookie. Not to mention, they're pretty delicious with a piece of chocolate and a warm, roasted marshmallow between them for snickerdoodle s'more. Still, I don't think that they will ever be my go-to cookie. What I need is an aunt or family friend that makes them as their specialty, and sends them to me around the holidays.
Snickerdoodles adapted from Baking Illustrated
First, I have to say that I've been snacking on these cookies for the past week, and they will definitely be showing up again in my kitchen. I really never gave them a fair chance before.
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 T unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3T for rolling the dough
1 T ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk to combine.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until for about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides f the bowl and add the eggs. Beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture and mix at low speed just until combined.
In a shallow dish, mix the 3 T of sugar with the ground cinnamon. Take about one heaping tablespoon of dough, roll it into a ball, and then roll the ball into the cinnamon sugar, coating it evenly. Place each ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet. (Try to leave at least two inches between dough balls. I used two half sheets and baked all 30 cookies at one time, but they ended up bleeding into each other, making square sides.)
Bake for about 10 minutes, until the centers look soft and the edges start to look set. Let them cool on the pan for about 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Should make about 30 cookies.