The first time I told Keith I was making Snickerdoodles, he thought that I’d just made up a word. Somehow, both of us had made it 30+ years without eating (or even hearing of!) snickerdoodles.
Then I had one, and ohhhh boy was I hooked. There was something about the strange, subtle bite that the cookie had (thanks Cream of Tartar!), which I’d never tasted before. Despite being simple, super child-friendly and unassuming, they felt… fancy…. Weird, I know.
Anyways, I had to figure them out. The weird thing was that while there are lots of recipes for snickerdoodles online, they were all pretty different in what seemed to be pretty important ways.
Despite general agreement that cream of tartar (which to my perpetual amusement is a powder, not a cream), is what gives snickerdoodles their trademark tang, half the recipes seemed to leave it out. Types of sugars changed, amount of eggs. It was all very confusing.
So I settled on the three or four that seemed to be closest to what I wanted, borrowed, melded and came out with a snickerdoodle that I’m pretty damn happy with.
These snickerdoodles (don’t you love saying snickerdoodle?) are soft, airy and cakey, yet still moist and chewy. It really is a perfect combination. Plus they’ve got that amazing tang, and are ready to take whatever flavour dusting you can throw at it.
Big hat tip to Chelsea’s Messy Apron for a completely ingenious way of rolling the dough (into little cylinders instead of balls) which guarantees thick, chewy centres!
As with all my recipes, this uses grams for ingredient amounts. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, get one. Just get one.
The Only Snickerdoodle You Need
Makes 28 cookies | Active time: 45 minutes | Best started night before baking |
See the end of the recipe for notes.
260g browned butter
135g white sugar
142g dark brown sugar
2 large eggs (1 seperated)
1 tbsp vanilla paste (extract is fine if that’s all you have)
330g all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
¼ cup white sugar
3 tsp ground cinnamon
- Brown the butter – Chop 260g butter into more or less equal sized pieces, put them into a large saucepan, and place over medium-low heat. You don’t really need a big pan for this, but having more surface area in contact with the heat will make it go faster. This process will seem to be going extremely slowly, but then it’ll go from “not brown at all” to “way too brown” in seconds. Watch your butter closely! Stirring frequently, brown the butter until it gets to about a shade lighter than you want it. In the time it takes you to get it out of the pot, it’ll get up to the right colour. Scrape the butter, flakes and all, into a heat-proof bowl. This step can be done the night before, because you’re going to have to let the butter cool down and re-solidify. If you’re making this all at once, speed up the cooling process in the fridge.
- Once the butter is solid, and room temperature, add it along with both sugars to the bowl of your standmixer.
- Use the paddle attachment on medium-high until the mixture is smooth, noticeably lighter in colour and a a bit fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes, depending on the temperature of your butter.
- Once your butter/sugar mixture looks right, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add in 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk, along with the vanilla. Beat on medium until combined and smooth.
- In a clean bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, salt, baking soda, and spices (or your replacement for the spices).
- Add all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions, mixing between additions. Mix until just combined. Do not overmix the dough (a streak of flour or two is fine, you’ll mix it in as you’re scooping the dough).
- Cover tightly and place in the fridge for an at least an hour (overnight works too).
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl combine together the sugar and cinnamon (or whatever other coating ingredients you’re using).
- Remove the dough from the fridge, and scoop out 50g chunks of dough with a spoon. They don’t have to be balls, because you’re going to be shapring them.
- Roll the dough between your hands to form small, squat, cylinders (see the picture above for an example!)
- Roll the dough cylinders in the coating mixture, making sure they’re coated all over (including top and bottom).
- Place the dough cylinders on a parchment lined sheet pan, pressing down slightly and making sure that they are standing securely. If they’re leaning or wobbly, they’ll fall over in the oven and your cookies won’t be perfect, ripply circles (which is still fine, but not as pretty). Make sure you have a full 1.5″ between cookies, they’re going to expand and you’ll need the room.
- Bake until the cookies have a distinct golden colour, but are still visibly soft in the centre. This will take about 10 minutes. If in doubt, err on the side of slightly underbaking.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- The snickerdoodles will stay soft and fresh in a sealed container at room temperature for 2-3 days, and in the freezer for about 2-3 weeks (I was still eating my double batch after a month in the freezer, and they were just starting to get crumbly).
- Light brown sugar works just fine instead of the dark, if that’s what you have. Just take out 15g of flour.
- You don’t have to use browned butter in this (but really, why wouldn’t you!), in which case reduce the butter to 230g.
- The classic coating can be replaced with pretty much any sugar-based flavour combination. If you’re going to do something other than cinnamon & sugar, consider also swapping out the spices in the cookie mix. For example, if you’re going to do a matcha-sugar coating, replace the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice in the cookie with 2tbsp matcha and 75-100g of chopped white chocolate. Here are some combos to try:
Blueberry Lemon: Replace the cinnamon and nutmeg in the cookie with 1 tbsp fine lemon zest. For the coating, blitz freeze-dried blueberries (assuming you live in the US and can buy it for less than the small fortune they cost up here in Canada) to get 1/2 cup of powder, combine well with 1/4 cup of white sugar.
Chocolate: For this one you can keep the spices the same for a sort of mexican chocolate experience, or take them out, and replace 30g of flour in the recipe with high-fat cocoa powder (Valrhona, or any cocoa labelled ‘red’ will do the trick). For the coating, mix 1/4 cup cocoa powder with 1/8 cup white sugar. Combine well.
Lavender: Using a spice or coffee grinder, get 1.5tsp of good quality earl grey tea. Replace the spices in the cookie with the tea powder. Make lavender sugar for the coating. This works best by putting lavender (to taste, I like 1 tbsp culinary lavender to 1/2 cup of sugar), in the blender with the sugar, and blitzing it together. If you don’t want to wash another bowl, you can rub the lavender into the sugar with your fingers.