I’ll start by telling you that my grandmother is a terrible cook. When people ask what inspired me to start cooking and baking I usually reply: “survival.” If you know anything about Boston Irish grandmother’s, you will understand that any objection to what I was being served was retorted with “Just eat it and shut up!” But Gram, these pancakes are raw in the middle. “Just eat it and shut up.” Gram, the pasta is mushy…The broccoli disintegrated…Eggs make me sick…The chicken is so dry it hurts to swallow…But what is it? “Just eat it and shut up.” She tried. She really did want to be the kind of Grandmother who spent her Sunday’s making a feast and having freshly baked cookies ready for me when I got home from school, but for a number of reasons, that wasn’t possible. She never expected to become a parent again to her grandchild. She worked a full-time job six days a week to make sure I had everything else I needed. And she loved me. Mostly, I existed on cereal as a kid. Gram did like to make pies. Again, refer to my examples above about her cooking. One thing I did love were the scraps of dough she would cover in cinnamon and sugar and roll into little pinwheels, then bake until golden. They were a real treat.
It wasn’t until very recently that I, not only discovered snickerdoodle cookies, but learned they weren’t made with snickers’ candy bars cut up into pieces and baked into sugar cookies. I couldn’t wait to recapture the taste and memories of waiting around the kitchen until Gram pulled those yummy pinwheels out of the oven in these cookies. That are, by the way, buttery balls of goodness, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, then slightly smashed and baked until chewy and golden. I found the recipe in Joanne Chang’s: Flour Bakery Cookbook. I made them once, and then again for my son’s early birthday celebration at school this past June–only with homemade vanilla bean ice cream sandwiched in between. Sublime.
Recipe credit: Joanne Chang
2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. table salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (not a typo)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar, reserve 1/4 cup for coating
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1. Place rack in center of oven and Preheat to 350 degrees F.
2. Add following ingredients to medium sized bowl, Spooned and leveled flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. Whisk until blended.
*Use spoon to add flour to measuring cups. This prevents from using too much and creates a light cookie.
3. In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, blend butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar on medium speed to light and fluffy texture, approx. 3 minutes. Use rubber spatula to scrape down side of bowl.
4. Add eggs and mix until fully incorporated, approx. two minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl once more.
5. Turn the mixture on low speed and slowly begin to add flour until completely combined, approx. 30 seconds.
6. Wrap dough mixture and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
7. When dough has chilled, add cinnamon and 1/4 cup of sugar to small bowl. Round Tablespoon sized balls of dough with your hands and drop into cinnamon-sugar mixture individually. You can use a fork to gently turn dough balls to coat.
8. Place coated balls of dough 3 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Press balls of dough to flatten ever-so-slightly (very little).
9. Bake 15-18 minutes. Edges of cookies should be golden brown and crisp with softer middles. Allow cookies to rest of cookie sheets for 1 minute before transferring to cooling rack.
Store baked cookies in airtight container for three days, or freeze for one month. Uncooked dough can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for at least a month.
Cookies can be eaten in a dimly lit room while you gently weep to yourself about the lack of appreciation for how easy and magical life was when you were a child, or shared with others. Recapture the magic!