I've never been a huge fan of snickerdoodles. When I was younger, even saying the word snickerdoodles made my cheeks flush and that weird embarrassed feeling would rise up in my belly - it was such a stupid word. I think I would be willing to look past it if that word was attached to something delicious, but for me, the snickerdoodle always fell short.
I am cinnamon's number one fan, so you would think anything that boasts the toasty warm spice as its pride and joy would tickle my fancy, but it doesn't. My cookie-squirreling father adores them and at least once a month we have this exact conversation:
Dad: What are you making for dessert?
Brittany: I don't know, what do you want?
Dad: How about snickerdoodles? Those are good.
Brittany: No, those are nasty. They taste like flour.
Dad: Come on Britt, stop being a pill.
Britt: Make your own dessert.
I used to babysit for a snickerdoodle-lovin' family when I was in high school - they always had them in the house and one time there was even a snickerdoodle cake perched atop the cake stand, half crumbled from the girls picking at it all night long. But it just wasn't there for me. I am a real pain in the neck when it comes to the texture of baked goods - I categorize them into little cubby holes and they don't meet the criteria I tend to complain a lot. A whole lot.
In my book, brownies ought to be fudgy and cake needs to be fluffy and cookies should be chewy and crackers are best when crispy. Every snickerdoodle I've ever had was one of two things: puffy as a pillow or crisp as a cracker. Combine that with a lackluster flavor and that's just not something I want to spend my calories on. I was long suspicious of the addition of cream of tartar in the recipe because snickerdoodles were the only thing I ever used it for, and I hated the way the cookies had a shelf life of four hours before going from plush to crunchy.
So when a friend of mine requested that snickerdoodles make an appearance on this blog, I cringed a little. I hated snickerdoodles, but if I am to be in the business of making baked goods better, then I must learn to embrace what is possibly my least favorite cookie. First things first - ditch the cream of tartar. Next, I browned the butter to give the typically bland cookie a nutty, rich flavor; spiked the batter itself with Saigon cinnamon rather than just the cinnamon-sugar topping; let the flavors mingle in the fridge for a few hours before baking them really hot, really fast. Once the centers are gently puffed but not cooked completely through, it's time to take them out.
With quite a bit of tweaking to the classic recipe, I'm not sure these could even be called snickerdoodles anymore, more like cinnamon cookies of some sort, but I'm not one to cubby hole recipes.
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cinnamon sugar:
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt and brown the butter. This will take about 5-6 minutes but keep a close eye on it, it can go from golden yellow to toasty brown to dark as night in a few seconds. Pour the browned butter into a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. There may be a few clumps of brown sugar mixed in, I squished them up between my fingers. Once the butter has cooled a bit, whisk in the three eggs and vanilla. Pour the butter and egg mixture over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. In a wide bowl or pie plate, mix together the cinnamon and sugar.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop the dough into 2-teaspoon sized balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 7-8 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the centers are still very soft. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. [The hot baking sheet will continue to cook the cookies a bit and underbaking them helps keeps them soft.]
Makes about 3 dozen cookies, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.