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Snickerdoodles make us grin

Gingerbread is my family’s Christmas cookie of choice.

Detailed in my latest food section column, the traditional treat shouldered aside sugar cookies, which I deemed too fussy and exacting for kids (and myself) to execute. But given gingerbread’s mild sweetness, we still crave something that satisfies in a single bite.

Snickerdoodles have surfaced as the answer, offering the spice we love in an easy-roll format, plus a distinctively crackled surface. They were so popular this year that I had to ration my kids’ consumption to save enough for gifting.

Suffice it to say we’ll be making another batch very soon, and given how well the dough freezes, I’d portion it for other occasions in the coming months or adapting it to the following flavor profiles. The chai variation, in particular, speaks to me and I’m betting would even please my kids.

Tribune News Service photo

Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of the sugar with the butter, shortening and eggs. Stir in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 -inch balls.

Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture, then place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

For chai snickerdoodles: Prepare dough as directed and shape into balls. To cinnamon/sugar mixture, add 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. (You also could add white chocolate chips, if desired.) Roll dough balls in sugar/spice mix and bake as directed.

For rum pecan snickerdoodles: Add 1 cup toasted and chopped pecans to prepared cookie batter and shape into balls. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake as directed. After they are baked and while cookies are still hot, brush tops of cookies with rum using a pastry brush.

For egg nog snickerdoodles: Prepare dough as directed and shape into balls. Roll in cinnamon/sugar and bake as directed. Drizzle warm cookies with a glaze made from 1/4 cup egg nog, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup powdered sugar and a splash of rum (optional).