The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 15th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman
A Twist on a Classic Cookie
I have loved Snickerdoodle cookies for as long as I can remember! There is just something so special about a soft and chewy cookie that is rolled in cinnamon and packed with butter and sugar. Just the smell of them baking is enough to bring back wonderful childhood memories for me of my Mom and Grandma’s making these in their kitchens. Truthfully, the dough is pretty good too. I’m not endorsing eating raw cookie dough – never a good idea – but since I’m a recipe developer, I have to taste all the steps and processes leading up to the finalized product. Convincing enough? On a serious note though, I have always loved everything about a Snickerdoodle. Even the name. How fun is it saying, “Snickerdoodle”!?
Awhile back I was wondering to myself how I could ever “improve” on the original Snickerdoodle cookie. I tried adding white chocolate, cinnamon chips and a thick vanilla buttercream. The buttercream worked pretty well, but the white chocolate and cinnamon chips did not have the taste I was looking for. Then suddenly, one day, it hit me! Add chocolate! Of course! So, with the addition of unsweetened cocoa powder, a roll in white granulated sugar and a hint of pure vanilla extract, my “Chocolate Snickerdoodles” were born! These are deliciously different than the Snickerdoodles you may be used to, in taste and texture. The texture of these cookies are more in the “sandy” family and the taste is rich and decadent.
Using solid vegetable shortening instead of butter in this recipe guarantees the cookies to have that “sandy” quality that I was looking for when developing the recipe. It also guarantees the cookies to have that uniform “cracked” appearance that so many people ask me about and recognize. Feel free to add a little ground or roasted cinnamon to the dough of this particular cookie, for a “spicy hot chocolate” version. This dough can also be made in advance and kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.
2 cups white granulated sugar, plus ½ cup divided
1 ½ cups solid vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups white all-purpose flour
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl combine the 2 cups white granulated sugar and solid vegetable shortening until smooth and combined. Beat in 2 large eggs.
Add in the unsweetened cocoa powder, pure vanilla extract, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Stir together until everything is thoroughly combined and mixed together well.
Finally, gently fold in the white all-purpose flour, being careful not to overwork the dough.
Place the remaining ½ cup white granulated sugar into a small bowl.
Using a teaspoon, scoop out the dough and roll into a ball. Make the dough balls about the size of a walnut. Roll the dough balls in the white granulated sugar, coating evenly, before place them on the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2-inch space between each cookie.
Bake, one baking sheet at a time, in the preheated oven for 14 minutes. Once the cookies have cracked on top and settled on the bottom, they are done.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before enjoying.
Ask and Answer: I have been getting messages about the “perfect pie crust” and people looking for that one foolproof recipe. I’ve been making my Grandma Barbra’s pie crust for years and have shared that recipe here, on my website, and in Donna Cronk’s book “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland”. I do have some simple tips that may help with your pie crust making. First, always use cold ingredients. Second, don’t take the process so seriously. Relax and have fun with it. Nothing ever turns out when all the fun is taken away from it. Thirdly, I always use solid vegetable shortening in my crust. Butter simply can’t replicate the tenderness and flakiness of solid vegetable shortening. Hope this helps!