Snickerdoodles are one of my Top-5 favorite cookies. I love how simple they are, and the cinnamon-sugar on the outside adds a subtle flavor and crispiness that makes them irresistible! I also love that you can make them with simple baking staples. No chocolate chips, nuts, M&Ms, toffee bits, or other cookie mix-ins? No problem! You can still make Snickerdoodles.
The cream of tartar has always been a mysterious ingredient for me, so I decided to look it up and find out why it's in there.Turns out that in order for the baking soda to work there needs to be an acid--the cream of tartar. Some "modern" Snickerdoodle recipes call for baking powder instead of baking soda and cream of tartar, but since baking powder is baking soda and cream of tartar mixed together, it's essentially the same thing. Right?
Who. Knew?? Maybe you did already. I learned something new today.
Snickerdoodle purists insist that the cookie is not the same when made with baking powder instead of baking soda and cream of tarter. Me? I feel that a taste test is in order. I must know if they are different. For science.
While looking for the answer to the cream-of-tartar mystery, I also learned a little something from Wikipedia about this delicious cookie's silly name (can you say "Snickerdoodle" without smiling?):
The Joy of Cooking claims that snickerdoodles are probably German in origin, and that the name is a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln (lit. "snail noodles"), a kind of pastry. A different author suggests that the word "snicker" comes from the German word Schnecke, which describe a snail shape. Yet another hypothesis suggests that the name has no particular meaning or purpose and is simply a whimsically named cookie that originated from a New England tradition of fanciful cookie names.For these cookies I've modified my sister's recipe by decreasing the butter and sugar a little, and they cooked up perfect at my high alititude (about 5000 feet). If you live at a lower altitude, they will still be delicious--A huge thanks to my friend, Kyla, who tested them out at sea level in California. Thanks!! :D
Also, don't overcook these. Cook them just until they are puffed, and maybe starting to brown just a touch around the outside. If you want them to stay soft and chewy after they cool (and even for days after...if they last that long) they have to come out of the oven when they are underdone. Otherwise you will end up with rock-hard cookies, and that's just not delicious.
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Heat your oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Sil-pat liners.
2. Cream together the butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar, and mix well; scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the flour, mix well, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour. Set the dough aside and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Using a standard cookie scoop (or you can use rounded tablespoon scoops) scoop the dough, roll the dough into balls with your hands, and then roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar.
4. Place the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed in the center and just barely starting to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before removing them to paper towels or wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 36 cookies.