04. Birthday Goodies, Part 1: Snickerdoodles

March 12, 2010 at 4:49 PM (Recipe) (, , , , , )

I don't even remember where we were, I just wanted to go home

On the road, not really ideal blogging conditions.

Whoops! It’s been a crazy few weeks and I’ve been all over the place–from celebrating my 23rd birthday with some of my favorite people (especially Beth and Jenn, who are the topic of this and an upcoming post, and my amazing Josh, who made it all possible) to visiting my folks up in Maryland–so it’s taken me a while to get my focus back. I have been making plenty of goodies in the kitchen though, so I’ve got lots to share.

On to today’s topic: DELICIOUS COOKIES. Beth’s birthday is a few days before mine, and Jenn’s is several weeks after, so I had made plans to get together with them while I was in MD since I couldn’t be there for their actual birthdays. I love giving people presents and although I couldn’t afford to buy them anything, I could definitely make them something. And considering that they ended up driving eight hours or so to Asheville to surprise me for my birthday, they definitely deserved a token of how much I appreciate having them in my life. Cookies it was! But what kind? I didn’t want to be generic and make chocolate chip when not everyone even LIKES chocolate chip cookies that much. So I went straight to the source. I’ll get to Jenn’s cookies in a later post, but Beth told me her favorites were snickerdoodles. For those of you who may not know what a snickerdoodle* is (I didn’t, because I am a foreigner that just came here to take all your jobs. ALL OF ‘EM.), it is basically a cinnamon-sugar, quite buttery cookie. If you love cinnamon (and sugar presumably), you’ll probably love these. I’m not even a huge cinnamon fan and I thought they were awesome and ate several. Just for quality control purposes though. That’s right. Quality control.

Although I didn’t know what exactly I was supposed to be baking, I had recently gotten The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, and had seen a snickerdoodle recipe in there, so that’s the one I used. It worked very well for me, with only one tiny quirk, which I’ll address shortly. Also, since this is the first baking recipe I’m covering, I will be offering A LOT of notes–baking tends to be quite a bit more precise than cooking, and there’s many things that need to be taken into account. Off we go!

*Spellcheck is telling me that snickerdoodles is spelled wrong, and one of the suggestions is knickerbockers. Okay, spellcheck. Okay.

Ingredients
Dough

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I always use the butter-flavored kind, I just find it tastier)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract*
  • 2 tsp baking powder**
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature if you can manage, if you forget to take them out, don’t worry)
  • 3/4 tsp salt (use table salt for baking unless the recipe specifies otherwise. For one thing, coarser salt won’t dissolve the same way; it also will cause the recipe to be excessively salty if you use the same measurements)
  • 2 3/4 cups (11 1/2 oz–a special note about this later) flour (unbleached, all-purpose is my standard. Flour doesn’t need to be bleached in the first place, and it certainly won’t be doing the flavor of your creations any favors)

Coating

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

*I strongly, strongly recommend buying PURE vanilla extract–not imitation. Obviously if you’re dying to make a recipe and all you have on hand is imitation, don’t let that stop you, but when it’s time to buy more, spring for the real stuff. It really will make a difference.
**Whenever you’re using baking powder, make sure it’s not expired or it’ll be pretty much pointless. To test for freshness, mix a teaspoon of baking powder with 1/3 cup of hot water. It should bubble. If nothing happens, you need to buy a new container.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (just not at the very top and the very bottom, of course). Line two large baking sheets* with parchment paper. You could also just grease the sheets very well, but I swear by parchment paper and its amazing nonstick…iness. You don’t have to worry about missing a spot and getting a cookie that just won’t come off cleanly, transferring the cookies to a rack to cool is way easier, and when you’re done you just throw the paper away instead of trying to wash two quite sizable and unwieldy pieces of metal.
  2. In a fairly large bowl (use a stand mixer or a hand-held), cream together the shortening, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and baking powder, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt, mixing slowly until combined.I think it looks good already. A special note about flour now. You’ll notice I put a weight measurement along with the typical volume measurement. Certain ingredients, like flour, can take up the same amount of volume but actually be a different amount than what you need simply based on how densely they’re packed. If you don’t have a food scale to use in the kitchen, just be very careful with how you measure. Look up the scoop and sweep method, that tends to get closest to the weight measure you’re looking for. If you do have a food scale, always use the weight measurement instead of the volume measurement for best results.
  3. In a separate (preferably somewhat shallow) bowl or a large plastic bag, mix together the cinnamon and sugar for the coating.
  4. Take about a tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball (if you don’t want to/can’t measure a TBSP, the resulting ball should be maybe an inch in diameter). Place the ball into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

    I used a bowl to coat my dough.

    When you have about 5 or 6 balls (less and you’re making more work for yourself, more and they’ll get too crowded and won’t coat well), gently shake the bowl/bag until they are coated. The bag method is rather obvious but if you’re using a bowl, I found that a sort of circular (like you’re making the bowl hula hoop) motion is best–the dough gets nicely coated and you’re not spilling cinnamon-sugar all over the kitchen.

  5. Place the coated balls of dough on your prepared sheets, at least an inch and a half apart. If you crowd the cookies, they will spread into each other and it will not be pretty. Using the bottom of a glass (a glass with a smooth, flat bottom is best here), flatten each cookie to about half an inch thick. Don’t press too hard, a very gentle push down will do.
  6. Bake the cookies for 8 minutes–switching the baking sheets** at the 4 minute mark–until they’re just golden brown around the edges. Transfer to a rack*** to cool.

turns out snickerdoodles are amazing

*When I made this recipe, I did not have two large baking sheets. I had a large, a medium, and a small, and I used all of them, and it was not a big deal. If you only have one baking sheet, you’ll just have to bake your cookies in batches.
**If you’re not familiar with the practice of rotating your baking sheets, let me explain. Although it’s a good practice even when you’re only using one sheet, rotating the sheets when you’re using more than one is essential. If you don’t, the cookies on the lower rack are sure to get a bit overdone (read: burnt) and the cookies on the upper rack might not be as done as you’d like. To rotate the sheets, just put the sheet that was on the bottom rack onto the top rack and vice versa. Also, turn the sheet so that the cookies that were in the back are now in the front. This will ensure as even a baking as possible.
***Please, please make the investment ($9 can get you a 3-pack of racks at Wal-Mart) and get racks if you’re going to be baking. If you just cool them on the baking sheet, the bottoms will get soggy and who wants to eat soggy cookies? That goes for other baked goods too.

So there you have it. Delicious, slightly crispy but not hard, cinnamon-sugary snickerdoodles. I mentioned earlier that this recipe had one quirk–it said that the amount of dough would make SEVEN DOZEN cookies, which it fortunately did not. I think I ended up with about four dozen or slightly less than that, which I managed to all bake in one go (although a few cookies did get not-quite-round edges from spreading more than I expected) on three baking sheets.

I won’t be posting this weekend, but Part 2 will be up on Monday!

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9 Comments

  1. Eric said,

    LIKE

    • Stacie said,

      tysm :3 if you ever visit me i will make you some of these!

  2. Anna Grace said,

    Don’t have time to try these right now, but they look delicious! I enjoy reading your food blog. 🙂 Keep it up! Also, your tips are good. For instance, I don’t know much about cooking, so I appreciated the tip on how to make sure your baking powder is still good.

    • Stacie said,

      thanks! that makes me feel good. =)

  3. Beth said,

    I can honestly say they were not only fabulous, but I could taste the love in those cookies. And it tasted like butter-flavored Crisco. Mmmm….

    • Stacie said,

      most people don’t realize that that’s what love actually tastes like. =)

  4. Birthday Goodies, Part 2: Peanut Blossoms « Comrade Foodie At Your Service said,

    […] Hope everyone had a nice weekend! Welcome to Part 2 of my DELICIOUS COOKIES FOR MY BEST FRIENDS mini-series. (Part 1 is here) […]

  5. Leigh said,

    Huh. I thought snickerdoodles HAD to have cream of tartar in them. I thought that’s what made the crackly top. Confused. I should try the recipe I have and yours, then see what happens.

    P.S. Finally have your link up on FGT. Huzzah! ::cheer::

    P.P.S. Pretty please take my last name off your link – it’s not too hard to find me on teh interwebz, but a little division is nice.

    • Stacie said,

      w/r/t your last name: done, didn’t realize it was a problem. sorry! and thanks for the link! =D

      w/r/t cream of tartar: well, it’s not quite the same, but i know if you don’t have baking powder on hand, some people recommend a substitution of baking soda + cream of tartar. so maybe just using baking powder in the recipe…worked? honestly this is my first experience with snickerdoodles and all i know is they were delicious, so i’m quite pleased with how it turned out.

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