Even with no decorating, the cinnamon-sugar coating and crackled appearance make the snickerdoodle look fancy. The subtle tang of flavor, thanks to cream of tartar or lemon juice, elevates the humble ‘doodle to holiday heights. It’s the perfect cookie to bake when you’re short on time or simply don’t have the patience for frosting and sprinkles.
The snickerdoodle is referred to as a sugar cookie and is thought to be German in origin. Its roots run deep in New England, but no one seems to be able to pinpoint where the name actually came from – a corruption of a German word perhaps or maybe just a whimsical moniker for a cute cookie? The earliest use of the word snickerdoodle appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1889.
You will see the use of shortening in this recipe; don’t panic and do use it. Crisco is my favorite brand of shortening and combined with the butter makes for a chewy, buttery cookie. Use the regular Crisco shortening, not the butter Crisco in this recipe. These cookies continue to cook as they cool, so be careful not to overbake them if you like a nice crisp bite with a perfectly soft middle.
Along with giving the cookies their signature tang, cream of tartar works with the baking soda to give the cookies lift. You can find recipes using lemon juice for flavor and even recipes with baking powder and vanilla. This particular recipe is a favorite of mine. The ingredients are simple. The technique is easy. The result is a fabulous cookie.
Please note: Make sure your cookie dough balls are on the small side and space them with several inches in between on the cookie sheet. Otherwise, the cookies may run together instead of staying in nice round shapes as they spread out. Of course, you can always cut the cookies apart if they do end up spreading into each other. Santa won’t care either way.
Makes 2 dozen cookies
-2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons cream of tartar
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
-8 tablespoons regular shortening (not the 'butter' variety), room temperature
-1 ½ cups sugar, plus ¼ cup for rolling
-2 large eggs, room temperature
-1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
Using stand mixer fitted with paddle or hand mixer, beat butter, shortening and 1 ½ cups sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy (for about 3 minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated, scraping down bowl as needed.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add flour mixture until combined. Make sure no flour pockets remain. Combine remaining ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish.
Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll each ball in sugar/cinnamon mixture to coat. Space balls at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, for 8 to 12 minutes, until just beginning to brown but centers are still soft and cracked. Please note that cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone. Let cookies cool on sheet for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
**Please note: The dough balls can be frozen for up to one month; bake frozen cookies in 300 degree oven for 18-20 minutes).