Old Fashioned Snickerdoodles
When we were little my mom used to make us cinnamon toast.
It wasn't a complicated recipe: white bread, spread out broken dabs of butter, sprinkled white sugar, and finished off with a liberal splash of cinnamon. She put it under the broiler till the edges were toasty and the center was perfectly chewy. The smell of spicy cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter filled our kitchen. It was simple, but heavenly. It was the scent of tradition. It made me feel warm and cozy. It was the scent of my mom and the scent of home.
I firmly believe my mom is the source of my sweet tooth. That and my love of coffee, which coincidentally, pairs lovely with a sweet tooth. My mom loved nurturing us with homemade apple pies, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and hand whipped vanilla cream, which remains her favorite indulgence to this day. My grandma shared these things with her as a little girl and she shared them with us.
I still love the smell of cinnamon and sugar as it fills my kitchen. As I've grown up my tastes and baking skills have grown with me. I've graduated from white sandwich bread cinnamon toast to classic Old Fashioned Snickerdoodles. This doesn't mean I wouldn't gratefully welcome a batch of cinnamon toast from my mom. I would...any day of the week.
I love everything about Snickerdoodles. I even love the name "snickerdoodle." They're delightfully nostalgic. Chewy, sweet, slightly tangy; they're the quintessential combination of cinnamon, sugar, and butter. One bite and you're instantly transported into a Normon Rockwell painting. I adore these cookies, not only for their classic, old fashioned flavor, but because they remind me of home. They remind me of my mom.
This recipe, like my mom's cinnamon toast isn't complicated. The best things never are. I use a blend of baking soda and cream of tarter, which gives the cookie that subtle sour flavor, chewy interior, and a crisp, crinkly top. The only twist is a blend of butter and shortening. Normally I wouldn't use shortening, it doesn't taste as good in butter. However, in this case the high fat content of the shortening is needed. It helps reduce the spread of the cookie while baking, creating that splendid thick, chewy texture. But do not fear, the butter flavor proudly dominates; you won't even notice the shortening is there. You'll also notice I don't add vanilla. It fights the signature tangy flavor that puts the "snicker" in Snickerdoodle.
The cookies are rolled in a generous mix of cinnamon and sugar before baking. They come out of the oven with a crisp exterior and a delectable chewy interior. A contrast made in heaven. But the best part is the smell in your kitchen. Warm and cozy. Smells like home.
Old Fashioned Snickerdoodles
Makes about 24-30 cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tarter
- 1 teaspoon baking soda (for high altitude decrease by 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (for high altitude decrease by 1 tablespoon)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar for rolling
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon for rolling
* Baker's note: See my post on high altitude baking for adjustments to your elevation.
- Preheat the oven to 400° and position the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Mix flour, cream of tarter, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In an electric mixer (or by hand) cream the butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups of sugar till light and fluffy at medium speed. About 2 minutes. Make sure you scrape down the bowl as needed.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, until just combined.
- Add the dry ingredients at slow speed. Don't over mix, just until combined.
- In another bowl or plate mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon together. Grab about 2 tablespoons of dough, I use an ice cream scooper, and roll into balls. Roll the dough in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat. Place on cookie sheets about 2-3 inches apart.
- Bake, making sure to reverse the positions of cookie sheets from front to back, upper to lower, halfway through baking. The cookies should look set on the outside and soft and puffy in the middle. About 10 minutes.
- Let the cookies cool and set for 3 minutes before transferring to a rack.