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Snickerdoodles or Roly Poly cookies (happy birthday, Dad!)

February 11, 2011
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My dad loves snickerdoodles (or what my grandmother apparently called roly poly cookies – maybe rolie polie cookies, I’m not sure how this is spelled).  This year for his birthday I sent him a box full of them.   Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the recipe I’ve used in the past, and every recipe I found online seemed deficient in some way.  Some barely used any cinnamon, others looked far too flat and crispy.  I mean, your cookies should crunch, but I don’t want to eat cookies that look like coasters. And I don’t want to use coasters that are actually a waste of my butter and flour.

So I wound up blending several recipes, rendering each of them pretty unrecognizable, so I’m going to go ahead and call this an “Amanda” recipe even though I’m sure someone else out there has a very similar recipe (I just didn’t find it).

I was inspired in part by a recent failure in the cookie-making department.  I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for a care package I sent the beloved carnivore’s sister (only I swapped out the chocolate chips for peanut butter M&Ms, something I’d rarely eaten until I met the beloved carnivore, but I’ve converted to appropriately deep appreciation of them).   I used the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag, forgetting that I’m not a huge fan of that recipe.  The cookies come out so flat, even if you refrigerate the dough beforehand.   Why?  Because it uses baking soda, which is a leavening agent, to be sure, but rarely produces the kind of soft, vaguely bread-like puffy cookies I love.  So I scoured the Interwebs for a snickerdoodle recipe that used baking powder instead of baking soda.   I found some, which I used as a base, but then after making the cookies I panicked, realizing that in snickerdoodles the baking soda is paired with cream of tartar (which diminishes though does not eliminate, in my opinion, the obnoxious flatness).  And the first time I was planning to make snickerdoodles (many moons ago), my dad told me that his mom always used cream of tartar – so my new recipe was clearly going to conflict not only with whatever recipe I must’ve used in the past but with my grandmother’s way of doing this.   As an avid devotee of my grandmother’s recipes – her rolls, oh my gosh, you just don’t know how good they are – this was very concerning. I called my dad and told him I may have ruined his birthday.   He was very comforting.  That’s what dads are for, right?  To comfort you when you’re panicked about ruining the birthday presents you’ve made for them?  Whether it’s snickerdoodles without cream of tartar or a sand art piece that you’ve accidentally shaken.

Needless to say, my panic was unnecessary, because this recipe worked beautifully and tasted delicious, if I do say so myself.  After further research, I discovered that the cream of tartar & baking soda combo is old school and, while still an option, not critical to the making of snickerdoodles that will make your dad happy.  Happy Birthday, Dad!!

Snickerdoodles

For cookies:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the rolling of the cookies in deliciousness:

  • rounded 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-2 TBSP cinnamon (1 if you have fresh cinnamon, 2 if your cinnamon’s been in the cabinet a while)

Measure the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium or large bowl.  Blend well with a fork or whisk.

Get your mixer out (or plan to get your hands really messy).   Cream together the shortening, softened butter, and sugar.  Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.  Add in the vanilla and mix again.  Pour in the dry ingredients in batches, again, mixing after each addition.  Blend until smooth.

After eating a few bites of the cookie dough, in flagrant violation of FDA recommendations about the consumption of raw egg products, refrigerate the dough for at least four hours and preferably overnight.

Pull your dough out of the fridge and let it thaw for a few minutes.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper so you’re completely cookie-ready.

In a small bowl, mix together the rounded 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon.  Mix it very well, you don’t want some cookies to wind up all cinnamon and some to wind up all sugar.

Grab a bit of dough and roll it into a ball about 1 inch in diameter.  Be advised, this makes small cookies, so roll a bigger ball if you want those bigger cookies that you’d get at the store.  Roll the dough in the cinnamon and sugar mixture, making sure it’s evenly coated.  Place the finished dough ball on the cookie sheet and push it down gently with the palm of your hand till it’s about 1/2 inch thick.  The more you push it down, the thinner the cookie will be, so you may want to experiment with it until you find the cookie thickness you like best.   Repeat with the rest of the dough, although you’ll have to work in batches unless you have the world’s largest cookie sheet and largest oven.   Special tip – clean your hands several times during this process, because they’ll inevitably get coated with sugar, too, and if you don’t wash your hands, you’ll wind up adding too much sugar to the cookie dough when you’re forming the balls.

Bake each batch of cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are browned at the bottom but still soft on top.   Let cool for one minute on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Here’s the annoying part, and for this I apologize – I forgot to take pictures of the finished product.  I’m hoping my dad will be willing to take photos of these cookies and send them in.  Because what would a present from his daughter be if he didn’t have to work for it?  [As my dad’s comment below notes, the cookies were eaten too quickly for pictures to be taken.  I’ll update again with a picture next time I make these yummy cookies].

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Am Dad & Snickerdoodle Recipient permalink
    February 12, 2011 10:07 am

    First, they are all gone already. Second, they were great, as I mindlessly consumed & enjoyed them through a myriad of boring conference calls. Thanks for a great bd present. Unfortunately, they were so good & went so fast that I neglected my instructions to take a pic. Oops. Your blog readersshould know that had I taken a pic, they would have been impressed. Thanks for sending me a box of this shining example of consumable culinary art!

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