We’re moving, and the odds and ends in our pantry, freezer, and fridge have dictated our meals of late. This has led to a great deal of healthful, whole-grain fare like barley salad and quinoa pilaf…but it gets to be a drag. Luckily, we also had a few pounds of butter and sugar in need of use, so I made a batch of snickerdoodles. If it’s been a while since you’ve had these spiced sugar cookies, give them a try. I used to think snickerdoodles were boring, but their deceptive simplicity allows the complexity of the nutmeg and cinnamon to shine through. If you remove them from the oven right when their middles are still looking a tad undone, you’ll get wonderfully soft, chewy cookies; bake them for the full 11 minutes, and you get thinner, crisper cookies with fuller flavor. I’m not sure which I like best, but if you eat too many of the crisp ones, they tear up your mouth. This is from Nancy Bagget’s The All-American Cookie Book, an indispensable volume for cookie lovers.
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons cream of tartar 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened 1-3/4 cup granulated sugar 1-1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup 2 large eggs 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use less) 1/4 cup granulated sugar, combined with 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for topping
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, slat, and nutmeg, if using; set aside. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, sugar, and corn syrup until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended and smooth. Beat in half of the flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Stir in the remaining flour mixture until evenly incorporated. Let the dough stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until firmed up slightly. (I refrigerate it until firm.) Put the cinnamon-sugar topping in a shallow bowl.
3. Roll portions of the dough into 1-1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar topping. Place on baking sheets, spacing about 2-3/4 inches apart. Using your hand, lightly pat down the tops of the balls.
4. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just light golden brown at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.
5. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled. Let the baking sheets cool between batches to keep the cookies from spreading too much. Store in an airtight container for up to 10 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Makes about 35 (3-1/2 to 4-inch) cookies.
Notes: I make the dough and refrigerate it overnight. This makes it much easier to handle, plus it makes two small cleanup sessions instead of one big one. I also bake two sheets at a time, rotating from top to bottom and back to front halfway through baking. The sheet that starts out on the top ends up crisper, and the sheet that starts out on the bottom ends up softer. That way I get some soft cookies and some crisp cookies, and everyone’s happy. And I’m out of the kitchen in half the time.