They say the surest way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I'd have to disagree - the surest way to anyone's heart is through their stomach but when I know I need to pull out the siren song to lure my husband toward a much needed chore that needs to be done, I put on my retro jello mold apron and whip up a batch of these cookies.
Snickerdoodles are the cookie of Marcus' childhood. Along with his beloved cinnamon rolls, snickerdoodles represent love and security - they take him back to those sun-filled moments most of us have of our youth - those times when we felt like everything was taken care of and we felt nurtured and adored.
When Marcus and I first met, he would wax rhapsodic about these cookies and I could never understand why he was so coo coo for cocoa puffs about them. I had many encounters with snickerdoodles in my youth, particularly at school bake sales. I could never understand why a person would choose a snickerdoodle over the gooey meltiness of a brownie, or the sticky, crunchy goodness of a rice-krispie treat. The snickerdoodles of my youth were always dusty affairs, a granular desert-like dessert. I like my cookies with crisp browned edges, and soft centers, not with a dry, desiccated sandiness that seemed to suck the moisture from my mouth.
But I loved the boy, and if he loved snickerdoodles, I was going to make them for him. This was at least twelve years ago so the internet was still in its beginning stages but I found somebody's tried and true recipe on a usenet group and gave it a shot. These cookies weren't great, but they were good and I could see the potential behind them. I kept trying recipes but never seemed to find the zenith of snickerdoodles I was shooting for - melting butteriness mixed with sugar and spice with crackly edges and a pliable center.
About six years ago, Marcus and I embarked on a baking marathon. Armed with a new DSL connection, we did a search on the internet and found six recipes that seemed promising. So in one day, Marcus and I baked our little hearts out and found the winner - Mrs. Sigg's Snickerdoodles at Allrecipes.com. Instead of shortening, we use all butter but the rest of the recipe is the same.
With a cookie like this, using the best ingredients you can is essential. There's no chocolate or nuts to break up the flavor of the actual cookie so using the best ingredients will make these cookies sing. I use double-strength vanilla from Penzeys and I really love their Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon in this recipe. I recently used their new cinnamon blend and while it still makes a great cookie, I'm still partial to the Vietnamese Cinnamon. If you can swing it, organic butter is also a great idea. I've made test batches with non-organic and organic butter and I think the cookies made with organic butter are better.
All of the above are nitpicky things but when you're looking for the pinnacle of snickerdoodles, you're willing to go to any length to achieve perfection. My husband is coo coo for cocoa puffs over these cookies, but not as coo coo for cocoa puffs as I am about him.
Note to anyone who might have received cookies from me recently - no cookies were harmed, licked or nibbled on during the filming of this photo shoot.
Our Perfect Version of Snickerdoodles
(Adapted from Mrs Sigg's Snickerdoodles)
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
First, cream together the butter, the 1 1/2 cups sugar, the eggs and the vanilla in a medium size bowl.
Next, mix the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl, then blend into wet ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are thoroughly combined but don't over mix them!
Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter. Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture.
Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes (I set the timer on 9 minutes and then check them through the oven window). The cookies should still be slightly puffy when you get them out, but set around the edges.