I have always baked Christmas gifts, however this was the first year that I involved my three year old. With an unexpected chill in the air and Christmas carols blasting from the stereo, the youngest and I took to the kitchen for an afternoon of mixing and measuring. One of our first creations were Dorie Greenspan's Speculoos; a delicious brown sugar cookie that seemed perfect for small gift bags. There was only one problem; I used up all of my dried ginger on some stir fry the week before. Since caution had already been thrown to the wind with a three year old sous chef, I decided that allspice would work just fine, as it turned out, it did. With warm spices these cookies had a distinct 'Christmasy' taste. My only disappointment was my decision to use a 3 inch biscuit cutter which did not offer a very interesting shape. Later that week, I picked up a mitten shaped cutter from Sur la Table and made another batch for family travelers...perfect! Encouraged by our success, my young helper and I added Snickerdoodles to the prep list which with their cinnamon sugar coating were the perfect companion.
I have tried many Snickerdoodle recipes over the years and prefer the following as it gives the lovely chewy texture.
Recipe created by: Carole Clements
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, finely chopped (I omitted these)
For the Coating
5 TB sugar
2 TB cinnamon
- With an electric mixer, cream the butter until light. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, then the milk.
- Sift the flour and baking soda over the butter mixture and stir to blend. Stir in the nuts, if using. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375, Grease 2 cookie sheets.
- For the coating, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Roll Tablespoons of the dough into walnut sized balls. Roll in the sugar mixture. You may need to work in batches.
- Place dough balls two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
These were amazingly popular cookies both among preschoolers and adults alike. In the end, baking day not only gave the youngest and I a chance to indulge our Christmas spirit, but actually mark tasks off the holiday to-do list. And, I must admit, watching our cookies being nibbled by family members throughout the week was a joy unparalleled. Looking for a tradition to add to your list, or just an easy activity for last few days of Christmas vacation? Break out the flour and sugar... sweet tradition is waiting!