Last night, my son Jack was using such aggressively persuasive “logic” to get his older sister, Caroline, to make cookies for him that she said she felt she was being forced to bake at gunpoint! Well, yes, she did end up baking cookies, and not surprisingly, she made Snickerdoodles. When you haven’t planned to make cookies and you end up making them anyway, the Snickerdoodle is handily created from basic pantry staples. Nobody is really sure where the name “Snickerdoodle” came from. The Joy of Cooking claims that it’s German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudel (“snail noodles”), a kind of cinnamon roll. However, upon further investigation, it’s also possible that it’s simply a nonsense name made up by New Englanders who were fond of naming their cookies with, well, silly names. The thing that distinguishes Snickerdoodles from a traditional sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon sugar is the cream of tartar, which lends that characteristic tang. It’s also responsible for the chewiness, because of the way it reacts with the sugar while baking. Here’s our favorite family recipe for Snickerdoodles. Why not bake some up right now?
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¾ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, 1½ cups sugar, eggs and vanilla until well mixed. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Combine cinnamon and remaining sugar. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture and place them 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake in a preheated 400°F oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until very slightly golden and set. Remove from baking sheets and let cool on wire racks. Makes about 5 dozen cookies