One of the best things that happens in baking (and in life I guess) is when something run of the mill turns into something really special. This week, I went off the rails with these Snickerdoodles.
Snickerdoodles are fantastic. They are Eric’s favorite cookie, and I have been trying for years to make one that is absolutely perfect. Every time I make them, he insists that I’m almost there. I have a feeling he is just saying that so I have to keep making him cookies…but honestly, they usually don’t get my engine revving. That’s why I’m so excited to share this twist on a classic.
Everything started when my amazing friend Kristin, who is an esthetician and all around good witch, introduced me to a new spice place in one of our favorite little neighborhoods. The place is called Savory Spice and it is a lovely family owned store in Brookside. Seriously, if you haven’t had the pleasure of going in there and just exploring, you totally should. They have a whole corner dedicated to just baking spices and a bunch of vanillas and cocoas and I’m so happy about it I forget to use punctuation.
I snagged a bottle of their Maple Extract and also a jar of Spiced Vanilla Sugar. Immediately, I thought about how I could use them in Snickerdoodles. You guys. It was stupid. Let’s get it going.
The usual suspects, plus a few special guests! You’ve got your regular sugar, brown sugar, flour, butter, salt and eggs. This time round, I decided to use baking soda instead of baking powder. I’ve noticed that lately my cookies are not quite as fluffy as I’d like. I typically use baking powder because, honestly, its easier to store. However, this week when I went to the store, they had baking soda in a resealable canister!
Now, science is a thing and although baking soda and baking powder are both leavening agents, they accomplish their jobs in different ways. Baking soda is a base so it reacts with acids (like brown sugar) to create carbon dioxide and lift your baked goods. Baking powder is a combination of baking soda and dy acids. It reacts first when mixed with acids and again when exposed to heat. You would think because they both react at some point in the preparation and baking of sweets that it would not matter which one you use, but it does my friends. It does. I have noticed that my cookies tend to react better with baking soda, while my cakes and brownies tend to favor baking powder. It really is all about how much acid you have in the recipe. If you don’t have enough acid to cause that creation of carbon dioxide, I would use baking powder. If you do have that acid, you should use baking soda.
I shall now get off my soapbox and continue.
I promise the whole post today won’t be like this.
We also have cream cheese here. To add to the delicious light and fluffy texture, I was going to add more butter. However, in my excited impulsivity to get these cookies rolling, I didn’t even bother checking to see if I had more butter. I didn’t. So I just used cream cheese instead. It was the happiest accident ever.
You also see maple extract, in place of vanilla extract and a combo of cinnamon and the spiced vanilla sugar I talked about earlier.
Now, we can get this train out on the water!
Throw the butter and cream cheese into a bowl and beat it to a bloody freaking pulp. The cream cheese will want to just stay lumpy, so you might have to let your beaters run on medium to medium high speed for a couple minutes to get the right amount of creamy smoothness.
Add both sugars and, again, beat it like crazy. Like Michael Jackson. Cause he has a song called Beat It. This is another time when you need to be patient and let the sugars break down completely. It really makes a difference in the texture of these cookies. Keep going until the mixture is smooth and one color.
Add the eggs one at a time. I cannot stress this enough. You have to mix them in completely before adding the next egg. Baking is all about balance and you have to give the butter mixture a second to get used to the new information before adding more stuff. It is like when you get a new haircut. You don’t cut 10 inches off your hair, and get new makeup and get a new wardrobe all in the same day. You have to get used to the new you before you continue to evolve.
It is exactly the same. Kind of. But with cookies.
Once the eggs are mixed in, add the maple extract. A little goes a long way with this stuff, kiddos. It is delicious but potent. Again, mix it in completely before continuing on this lovely journey of scrumptiousness.
Stir together your flour, salt and baking soda. Add half the dry ingredients to the dough and mix thoroughly. This is where the science happens!! Pour in the rest of the ingredients and mix again. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl and get all the dry ingredients down into the bowl so they can be mixed in completely.
Now pop the dough in the fridge to chill. I tried to chill it for half an hour and it was still really sticky and a bit difficult to work with, so I would recommend an hour or so. If you have the time to chill it overnight, that would be even better.
Time to coat them!!
Here is the most fun part! Take your cinnamon and spiced vanilla sugar and whisk them together if you have not already done so.
Scoop out some dough (I used a medium sized cookie scoop and I leveled it off each time)
coat it in the cinnamon sugar mixture
form it into a ball and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Remember that the dough was still pretty sticky when I tried to do this, so I could not just roll it in my hands. I put the hunk of dough in an empty deep dish ramekin and swirled it like it was a glass of wine desperately in need of oxygen. That gave me the perfect sphere of dough. Use whatever works for you. Just get that ball of dough coated in cinnamon and sugar.
Now, you are ready to bake! Bake these puppies at 350° for 13 minutes.
Oh my holy goodness Batman. Let them cool for five minutes on the baking sheet on a wire rack, then move them to the wire rack to cool completely before storing. To get maximum yummy out of them, be sure to store in an airtight container.
That’s all she wrote! These are super fun to make with kids because they are messy and the addition of the cream cheese, maple extract and spiced vanilla sugar make them extra special in a sea of normal Snickerdoodles out there. Give them a try! You’ll love ’em!
Nosh on, friends! 🙂
Yield: About 4 dozen cookies Prep: 10-15 minutes Bake: 13 minutes
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp maple extract
cinnamon and spiced vanilla sugar- use as needed to coat all the cookies
- Beat together cream cheese and butter until completely smooth.
- Cream this mixture together with both sugars. Beat until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time.
- Mix in maple extract.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add half this mixture to the dough and beat until combined. Add the other half and mix until all ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Combine equal parts cinnamon and spiced vanilla sugar. Scoop out some dough, coat it in this mixture and roll the dough to form a ball. Place this ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 13 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Remove from baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Repeat the scoop, coat and roll process until the cookie sheet is full. Then repeat as many times as needed to use all the dough.