Chewy, crunchy, sweet, tangy, and kid-friendly
Chewy and crunchy, sweet and tangy, snickerdoodles are a popular cookie for a very good reason: they taste great. No one-note cookies, they are complex, buttery, and redolent of cinnamon. Snickerdoodles are also quite forgiving, making them an excellent choice for young cookie bakers.
Last Christmas I had the joy of helping my young granddaughter make her first batch of cookies. Sure, we made a big old mess, but she has parents to clean that stuff up, so what did I care? The importance of sharing a moment like that, creating a great memory for both of us, cannot be overstated.
The two keys to a successful adult-child cookie making session are a no-fail recipe and a willingness to let the child do everything except, perhaps, the baking. Snickerdoodles are a great choice.
You'll notice that I provide weights for the major ingredients, but not cup equivalents. Cup measurements, no matter how carefully you do them, are inconsistent. The only way to ensure a no-fail recipe never fails is to weigh the ingredients.
8 oz (225 g) unsalted butter, room temperatureLet the butter sit out on the counter at least 2-3 hours, or preferably overnight, so that it is nicely softened but not melted. If you don't have cinnamon sugar prepared, make some by mixing three parts sugar with one part cinnamon; for this batch of cookies you could mix two tablespoons of sugar with two teaspoons of cinnamon.
12 oz (340 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
13½ oz (385) g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Cream the butter, sugar, and eggs until pale yellow. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then add to the butter mixture and mix until blended. The dough may be a bit crumbly, but that isn't a problem. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill. Place your cookie sheet in the freezer. If you don't have room in the freezer, the refrigerator will do, but you want the sheet as cold as you can get it. This is a good time to preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and the cookie sheet from the freezer. Roll about one tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll the ball in cinnamon sugar to coat it completely. Place the dough ball on the ungreased cookie sheet and repeat until the sheet is full, leaving about two inches between the cookies. Place the sheet of dough into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill.
It's difficult to be precise about baking time. Ten minutes is the minimum, but it may take up to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, the accuracy of your oven temperature, and how chewy or crispy you want the cookies. For chewy cookies, bake until the edge of the cookies is just set; the center will be too soft to touch. If you want the cookies crispier, continue to bake until the edge is more firm and the top of the cookie in the center is set. Remove from the oven and leave on the cookie sheet only until you can remove them safely. The longer they remain on the warm sheet, the crispier they will be. Cool on a rack. Put the cookie sheet into the freezer for 15 minutes before reusing it or the remaining cookies won't come out as well.
This recipe yields 24-30 cookies, which can be stored in an airtight container for a week.