Let's talk about sinckerdoodles. I love snickerdoodles. I mean even that name is just lovable. Snickerdoodle. They are one of my favorite cookies. However, my mom never made snickerdoodles. In fact, no one I know made them. My earliest encounter with snickerdoodles came thanks to a bakery located in the town where I grew up, back in Missouri. It was called The Pie and Cake Factory. The mother of a childhood friend would frequent the bakery, and one of the things she'd often buy there were snickerdoodles along with frosted sugar cookies celebrating whatever holiday was just around the bend. Every day after school, I would go to my friend Steve's house to play and more often than not, there would be a white bakery box full of cookies, layered with tissue paper. It was heaven. To this day I have never had a snickerdoodle better than those from the Pie and Cake Factory. Unfortunately it is now out of business and I don't know whatever happened to the proprietress.
A phone call to my parents recently resulted in new information about the woman behind my favorite cookie. Her name was Margie. Apparently she used to be a cook on a tow boat that pushed barges around on the Mississippi river and became well known for her outstanding pies. She quit working on the boat and started selling her pies and cakes to local restaurants. Soon she opened her bakery up to the public which then followed with a storefront that also served light lunches. My dad was a fan of her hot dogs and I vaguely recall trying split pea soup there for the first time. This was more than twenty year ago and alas, the Pie and Cake Factory eventually went out of business but I never stopped thinking about Margie's cookie.
Recently I had dinner with my friend Lauren and afterward we went back to her apartment to visit some more. She had a copy of the Martha Stewart Cookie book and soon we were talking about favorite baked goods. As I flipped through the book I happened across a recipe for snickerdoodles and a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I decided that it was time that I finally made some snickerdoodles and revisit my youth (the fact that my birthday is in a few days I'm sure had nothing to do with my regression back to childhood). I actually opted not to use Martha's recipe but instead went with Gale Gand's version of the cookie. Martha's recipe calls for cream of tartar and equal parts butter and shortening whereas Gale's version is all butter and uses baking powder and baking soda. I'm not sure what Margie used, butter vs. shortening, but for now I'm starting with all butter.
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(for the coating)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
First combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature butter and cream on medium speed for about 2 minutes until the butter has gotten light and creamy.
Add in the sugar and continue to mix for another 2 minutes or so, until the butter no longer feel grainy from the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Once combined, add in the corn syrup and the vanilla.
On low speed add in the dry ingredients and mix just until everything comes together. If the dough is too sticky, chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
To make the coating, stir together the 3 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon in a wide, shallow bowl.
To make the cookies, use a small ice cream scoop to measure out the dough and then roll into balls with your hands. It should be about the size of a walnut. Roll the balls in the sugar and cinnamon mixture to coat completely.
Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat about 2 inches apart. Because of how much they spread during baking, I was able to get 11 cookies per baking sheet.
Bake until puffed and the surface is slightly cracked, about 9 to 12 minutes, depending on your oven. I prefer my snickerdoodles with not much color on them so I took mine out at 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes. The cookies will deflate a little as the cool on the baking sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.
So these cookies are not quite like how I remember Margie's. Hers seemed a little lighter and more puffed, but these are pretty great. They're buttery, with a nice sweet vanilla flavor which is offset by the spice of the cinnamon. I almost think you could probably use more cinnamon, if desired, both the the cookie dough and in the sugar coating. The texture is just what I love in cookies, crisp around the edges, soft and chewy in the center.
If I ever get my hands on Margie's recipe, I'll let you know. Until then, these will do nicely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies