Snickerdoodle Cookies

snickerdoodles

Sweet, cinnamon-coated snickerdoodles are hands-down my favorite holiday cookie.  There is nothing fancy about these rich little cookies.  Just simple, buttery goodness.

You probably already have an identical snickerdoodle recipe in your recipe box. But when was the last time you used it?  In our house, it had been a while.  For years, I had overlooked my beloved snickerdoodles in favor of more trendy holiday cookies. But trendy doesn’t necessarily trump delicious. So, I just wanted to remind you about the humble snickerdoodle.

christmas cookieThe best thing about snickerdoodles is the warm cookie smell.  Something about the combination of cinnamon and butter is both homey and festive.  I don’t actually remember my grandmother ever baking snickerdoodles. She was always way more into brownies than cookies. Even so, the snickerdoodle aroma takes me back to her cozy kitchen anyway.

I also love that snickerdoodles keep very well.  Plop them in a parchment-lined cookie tin, and they will be soft and chewy for at least a week, maybe longer. I don’t really know how much longer – we always eat them all within a week. If you want to ensure that they last for a few weeks, or even a few months, you can freeze the baked cookies, and simply leave them on the kitchen counter to thaw when you want to enjoy them.

Happy Holidays!

christmas cookie

Snickerdoodle Cookies

makes about 5 dozen cookies

11/2 cups sugar, plus 1/4 cup for topping

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

3 cups flour

2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

pinch of salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Beat  together the butter and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat to combine.  Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.  Beat well until all ingredients are well mixed.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and the cinnamon.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets (place the remaining dough in the fridge in between baking batches of cookies, as this will make it easier to roll the next batch into balls). Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.  Avoid over-baking.  Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cook fully.

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Published in: on December 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm  Comments (5)  
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Last Taste of Winter: Chestnut Biscotti

mondel bread

It occurred to me today that I should get as much mileage out of my cute wool sweater dresses and soft cashmere scarves as possible.  Only a few weeks left of weather cold enough for fuzzy boots to be considered a fashion statement!  And only a few weeks for enjoying steaming winter stews, or curling up in front of a fireplace with a cup of cocoa. 

I’m excited for spring of course. For daffodils, asparagus, open-toed shoes, and lemonade. But as much as I’ve whined about the constant snow this winter, I feel a need to make these last few weeks count. So I’m bingeing on steaming soups and hot beverages.  And to go with those beverages, nutty biscotti.

Chestnuts are the ultimate winter ingredient, conjuring images of cozy holidays. And they add a rustic sweetness to these simple crumbly cookies.  This recipe is actually more a riff on my grandmother’s mondel bread than an actual biscotti, but a twice-baked cookie is  a twice-baked cookie.  But don’t let the double baking process put you off, these biscotti are actually quite quick and easy, and perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee! 

Chestnut flour is often available at Italian markets, as it’s popular in European pastries, but you can also find it online.  The flavor of chestnut flour is quite unique, but in a pinch, you could substitute almond flour. 

chestnut flour cookie

Chestnut Biscotti

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chestnut flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Wisk together the egg, sugar, oil and vanilla.  Sift together the flours and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Stir in the nuts.  The mixture should be rather stiff.  Form the mixture into two logs, each about three inches wide and one inch thick.  Bake the logs on a greased cookie sheet for 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then slice carefully with a very sharp knife into 1 inch thick cookies.  Replace the cookies on the cookie sheet, cut side down and return to the oven.  Cook for 15 minutes more until they darken slightly.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container.  They last for at least a week and also freeze well.

Published in: on March 8, 2011 at 8:27 pm  Comments (23)  
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Homemade Fig Newtons

homemade fig newtons

I am a big fan of cookie dunking.  We’ve covered my need to dunk before (when I talked about my hamantaschen recipe, which you can find here) but such a contentious topic deserves a bit more attention.

You see, Jeff is firmly anti-dunking.  He likes cookies best in their natural state and finds the sweet softness of a dunked confection to be unappetizing at best and downright nauseating at worst.  For Jeff this, as with most food-related aversions, is a texture issue.  And it’s no shock that he lives in fear of soggy cookies since he is the same man who removes the submerged toast from his French onion soup before digging in. 

homemade fig newtonsBut for me, the marriage of cookie and beverage is the best part of the whole cookie experience.  But not all cookie and beverage combinations are created equal.  To my mind, certain drinks call out for certain cookies.  For example, the classic combination of biscotti and cappuccino works wonderfully because the airy foam softens the hard cookie just enough to produce a mouth-watering crumb.  But rusks, the extra-hard South African cousin of biscotti, are best dunked in hot tea, as the jaw-breaking biscuit benefits greatly from the tea’s softening powers. Nice, crisp gingersnaps also work well dunked in tea as they retain their form and bite.  Hot chocolate is best with a square of buttery shortbread, which not only stands up to the heat, but soaks in the chocolate flavor making the cookie itself doubly intense.

Of course, chocolate chip cookies are destined for a swim in a nice tall glass of milk.  The cool milk cuts through the richness of the cookie, and works particularly well when the cookie is warm. There are, in fact, a whole school of traditional American cookies that beg for a glass of cold milk; graham crackers, peanut butter cookies (super easy recipe here), and Fig Newtons among others.

As a kid I was never a big fan of Fig Newtons.  In my mind they fell into the dreaded category of “healthy treats” simply because fruit was involved.  I probably hadn’t had a Fig Newton in twenty years until a few weeks ago, when stuck starving on the tarmac on a delayed flight, I accepted a generous gift from the gentleman in the seat next to me. Not bad, but as I sat in my tight middle seat on that 747, longing for a glass of milk, I pondered how to make new and improved Fig Newtons at home.  Convenient that I had just made a batch of quick fig jam!

homemade fig newtonsFresh figs and a flaky dough are a definite improvement over the sticky sweet filing and squishy texture of the packaged version. These cookies are just perfect with a glass of milk.  The texture holds up well to dunking and the cold milk does wonders for the rich, buttery dough. I used fresh Calimyrna figs for the simple filling here. Sweet, nutty, and thin-skinned, these light green figs are perfect for snacking and also perfect for a quick-fix fig jam. Feel free to substitute any other figs you like. And in a pinch, jarred fig preserves will do just fine.

Homemade Fig Newtons

2 cups chopped Calimyrna figs

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 cup flour (plus extra for dusting)

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ cup sugar

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2-3 tablespoons milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook the figs, water, and brown sugar, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, until very soft. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and sugar to mix. Cut the butter in small chunks and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the butter is well incorporated and the mixture is sandy in texture. Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, and pulse just until the dough comes together. You may not need all of the milk. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and form into a ball, kneading once or twice, just until the ball holds together. Quickly roll out the dough into a long rectangle about 1/6 inch thick. Cut the rectangle in half. On one half of the dough, spread half of the fig mixture. Fold the dough over the fig mixture and pinch to close. Cut in 1-2 inch bars. Repeat with remaining dough and jam. Bake on a greased cookie sheet 20-25 minutes until lightly brown. Cool and serve with a glass of milk.

I featured these fig bars in my column in the Dedham Transcript this month. Check out the article here.

Published in: on October 17, 2010 at 12:54 pm  Comments (30)  
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