This Saturday afternoon, I made some snickerdoodles.
By Sunday morning, they were gone.
A snickerdoodle is a tart drop cookie that is rolled in cinnamon sugar and develops a lovely crackled surface during the baking process. I used to bake snickerdoodles all the time in college, and they became quite the favorite among my friends. My only beef with the recipe was that I could never get it to produce the same results twice!
You may have experienced this problem with drop cookies, as well. One batch comes out poufy and cake-like, another flat and chewy, and another with doughy centers and burnt edges.
Frustrating, isn’t it?
After studying some basic cookie-baking techniques, however, I realized that I’ve been making some crucial cookie-baking mistakes. But instead of telling you all about them, let me show you instead. This way you, too, can bake consistent batches of these light and airy snickerdoodles…or any other drop cookie for that matter!
TECHNIQUE #1: ROOM TEMPERATURE INGREDIENTS.
REASON: When making cookies, it is important for all of the ingredients to be room temperature. This ensures the best texture and most consistent results.
Set out your butter and eggs about an hour or so before you start baking.
TECHNIQUE #2: SOFT BUTTER. NOT SQUISHY BUTTER.
REASON: The softness of the butter makes all the difference in the structure and texture of a cookie. Butter that is too cold will not create the desired air pockets in the batter resulting in dense, heavy cookies. Butter that is too soft will not give the batter the structure it needs.
HOW SOFT IS SOFT? The butter should be soft enough to make an impression when pressed with the index finger but not so soft that it completely gives way when you press it.
Avoid softening the butter in the microwave–it has the tendency to melt the butter too quickly.
TECHNIQUE #3: SPOON THE FLOUR. DON’T SCOOP THE FLOUR.
Who all out there dips their measuring cup into the flour and scoops out the needed amount?
Stop doing that.
REASON: Spooning the flour into your measuring cup and then leveling off the excess is the most accurate way to measure flour. Scooping your measuring cup into the flour compacts the flour which means you are most likely adding more flour to the recipe than you should.
Using a whisk is a quick way to sift dry ingredients. Watch out for lumps in your baking soda and cream of tartar.
TECHNIQUE #4: CREAMING THE BUTTER AND SUGAR
This is NOT properly creamed butter and sugar:
This IS properly creamed butter and sugar:
HOW TO CREAM PROPERLY: Use a wooden spoon and smoosh the butter into the sugar just until the mixture is uniform and pale yellow. Do not over-cream.
It is best to cream by hand since electric mixers tend to over-cream the fat and sugar. If you must use a mixer, give the butter and sugar a few turns with spoon first.
Now add your ROOM TEMPERATURE eggs. It is best to beat the eggs in by hand.
Eggs can be quickly brought to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm (not hot) water.
Beat eggs into butter and sugar mixture just until smooth. Don’t overbeat or your batter will be tough!
(Not shown) Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Repeat with the second half of flour and stir until well combined.
TECHNIQUE #5: LOOK, MOM, NO [STICKY] HANDS!
Have your palms ever gotten ridiculously sticky after rolling dough balls?
A spritz of cooking spray on the palms will quickly solve that problem:
Roll dough into 1-2″ balls and then roll in cinnamon sugar before placing on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Sometimes I like to mix it up by adding 1/4th teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie Spice to the cinnamon sugar.
Bake the snickerdoodles at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Cookies will be very soft so allow them to cool on the sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
I look forward to making these again…especially now that I know they will turn out the same way again!
(Recipe by Fine Cooking)
Makes 2-3 dozen depending on size of cookie
*1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
*1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
*2 large eggs, room temperature
*2 2/3 cups flour
*1 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*2 teaspoons cream of tartar
*Cinnamon sugar: 1/4 cup granulated sugar + 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar. (Check for lumps of baking soda and cream of tartar!)
In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until mixture is pale yellow (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs until fluffy.
Mix half of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Add the rest of the flour and stir until well combined.
Roll into 1-2″ balls, roll in cinnamon sugar and place 3″ apart on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bale for 15-18 minutes until golden. Allow cookies to cool on sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.