Pop quiz: what’s the difference between a sugar cookie and a snickerdoodle?
Cookies are sometimes tricky business in this house. I pretty much love anything I can get my hands on, but my partner is pickier. He tends to love cookies with more texture or flavor (or really just chocolate), so I don’t often make large batches of the simpler, plain cookies.
This time around, I decided it was time to make something new. I’ve made all kinds of cookies before, of course. You can even see recipes for some of them here.
- Giant Gooey Chocolate Cookies
- Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
- Snowball Cookies
- Lemon Cookies
- Oatmeal Cream Pies
- Peanut Butter Cookies
One I never made before, though, was the humble snickerdoodle. I’ve eaten them before, of course, but it’s always been those big, soft, chewy cookies from the store, loaded with corn syrup and trans fats and all the rest. I wanted something marginally healthier and, of course, homemade.
One oddity in this recipe is cream of tartar. I don’t recall the last time I used it — and really I’m not even sure what it is — but we had some sitting around, so I made good use of it. As it turns out, cream of tartar has three main uses. It can be used to stabilize egg whites, which is why it’s often an ingredient used to help make meringues. It can work as a leavening agent, though obviously not as effectively as baking soda. And, important for this recipe, it helps prevent sugar from crystalizing.
Sugar cookies can start off wonderfully soft, but they’ll harden up quickly if you let them. Cream of tartar helps prevent this. That, and it helps keep the cookies lighter in color (by preventing browning in heat) so the cinnamon stands out more.
My pro cookie tip: when you make your dough and divide it into balls, press a bit of an indentation into the middle of each cookie orb. This will help flatten and even out the cookies, preventing them from fluffing back up, and making sure they fully cook in the middle.
Here’s how to make them:
Soft and Simple Snickerdoodles
- 1 Stand Mixer
- 1-2 Baking Sheets
- 1 Cookie Scoop
- Parchment Paper
- 1 Small Bowl or Plate For rolling in cinnamon.
- Plastic Wrap
- 1 Cup Unsalted Butter Softened
- 1¾ Cups White Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2¾ Cups Flour
- 1½ Tsp Cream of Tartar
- ½ Tsp Baking Soda
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Cinnamon
- In your mixer, cream together the butter and 1½ cups of sugar. Reserve ¼ cup of sugar for the topping.
- Add the eggs and vanilla, continuing to mix.
- Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined. It will make a thick dough very quickly.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon to make a cinnamon-sugar topping. Pour this in a bowl or shallow dish, so you can roll dough balls in it.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using a cookie scoop, scoop roughly 1 Tbsp balls of dough and form them into spheres. Roll these in the cinnamon-sugar topping and place on the baking sheet, roughly three inches apart.
- Lightly press your thumb (or the back of a spoon) into the top of each ball to help flatten it slightly.
- Bake for 9-10 minutes. The cookies will still be quite light and very soft, but trust me; they're done.
- Let the cookies cool for at least 5 minutes before moving or eating, to allow them to solidify.