The holiday season is such a beloved time of year. The weather turns cool and the snow begins to fall; we spend dedicated time with our family and friends; and children experience old family traditions for the first time.
At homes across the country, carefully wrapped plates of homemade cookies are passed among friends and neighbors to celebrate a year of friendship and community. A family’s cookie plate is as unique as they are, and so often you can identify the sender by the treats on the plate.
Special holiday cookie recipes are an old tradition. In the Middle Ages, spices, butter and sugar were prized possessions, too expensive for everyday use. At the holidays, cooks would use these ingredients to make small extravagances to share with friends and family. Cookies spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove were common and have stood the test of time. It is believed that the first gingerbread men came from the time of Elizabeth I, who asked for the cookies to be shaped like the men in her court.
Cookie recipes have evolved a great deal since the time of Elizabeth, and every family has their list of must-bake cookies. One standout holiday favorite is the snickerdoodle, a sugar cookie that is rolled in cinnamon-sugar before being baked. It is recognizable by its slightly cracked exterior that lets its chewy interior shine through. Unlike many sugar cookies that are unleavened and rolled for cutting, our snickerdoodles contain both baking soda and cream of tartar. Because they are so mild in flavor, they often have a characteristic tanginess that can be attributed to those ingredients. After a heavy meal, Snickerdoodles are the perfect bite to satisfy a sweet tooth.
This recipe calls for a No. 40 scoop, which is just about 1 1/2 tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie, but you can make your cookies as big or small as you would like. For smaller cookies, increase the temperature slightly and reduce the baking time. For larger cookies, decrease the temperature and increase the baking time slightly. Either way, your nose will know when these cookies are done, and your home will be filled with the scent of the holidays.
Like most cookies, snickerdoodles are the perfect make-ahead recipe. The cookies can either be fully baked, cooled, and frozen, or you can prepare the dough, scoop the cookies onto a baking sheet, and freeze them to bake later. Remove your cookies from the freezer the day before use. Just be sure to tuck them away somewhere safe, since cookie radar is strong at the holidays.
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Cinnamon Sugar, as needed, for garnish (recipe follows)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Combine the ingredients and store in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, gently blend the butter, sugars, and salt on medium speed until combined, 2 minutes.
Gradually add the eggs and vanilla, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar together. Add to the creamed mixture and mix on low just until combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets using a No. 40 scoop about 1 1/2 inches apart and refrigerate until firm.
Roll the chilled dough in Cinnamon Sugar to coat. Flatten with your hands.
Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 8 minutes. Rotate and switch the baking sheets as necessary for even baking.
Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheets then transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Store the cookies in an airtight container. Makes about 24 cookies.
Per serving: 306 calories; 16 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 47 percent calories from fat); 39 g carbohydrates; 22 g sugar; 58 mg cholesterol; 87 mg sodium; 3 g protein; 1 g fiber.
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