Sunday, 22 June 2014

American Bakes: Snickerdoodles

The whimsical sounding Snickerdoodle biscuits are most unlike the chocolatey confectionery that share their name. I was a little disappointed. A nougat, peanut and sweet caramel biscuit encased in milk chocolate sounds really a rather fine invention, don't you agree? I'd even go as far to say that the company behind Snickers are missing a trick there, but I am very happy to sell my idea for a six figure sum and fifty percent share allocation (Yes, I may have been watching a bit too much "Dragon's Den" of late).

But back to the cookies I did actually bake, rather than the imaginary ones I'm salivating over as I type.

Our first nibble of a snickerdoodle was at Petite Amelie, a perfect little cafe in the heart of the French Quarter, on our final day of our recent trip to the US. It was a tough decision to order the biscuits (think England fan in Brazil deciding whether to loyally attend the one remaining, useless, Costa Rican match or spend a day on the sun-kissed Copacabana Beach with a Caipirinha cocktail in EACH hand). You see, the cafe had a selection of rather marvellous USA sweet treats: we were almost thwarted by the Bacon, Chocolate and Stout Bread and Butter Pudding and the Beer and Pretzel Caramels. Desserts more American than Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey dressed in Red Sox baseball gear under the Hollywood sign, eating a Hot Dog while harmoniously singing the Star-Spangled Banner under the guidance of choir mistress BeyoncĂ©.

But we did choose the snickerdoodle: a sugary, cinnamon crispy cookie hiding a soft, chewy almost cake-like centre. No one really knows the provenance of Snickerdoodles; the debate is shrouded in mystery with thoughts that they may have originated in either Dutch or German baking. Traditionally, snickerdoodles are baked at Christmas. I know, I've made them on one of the warmest days of the year, on the summer solstice as half of the UK decamps to Glastonbury at the crack of dawn and the other half pack onto crowded trains at Victoria Station, bound for Brighton Beach. At least I haven't been baking a Christmas Pudding.

This recipe is inspired by a cookbook I picked up on the trip: the Loveless Cafe cookbook, a collection of recipes from the eponymous restaurant near Nashville. I've also added in a couple of tips from the brilliant Smitten Kitchen recipe. 

(Makes 18-24 cookies)

For the biscuits:
55g unsalted butter
55g full fat cream cheese
75g soft brown sugar
75g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
225g plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For rolling:
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/180C fan. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
2. In large bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
3. Sift thought the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar and gently fold together until combined.
4. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least thirty minutes to chill the cookie dough. Prepare the cinnamon sugar by mixing the cinnamon and sugar together in a large bowl.
5. Using either a small ice cream scoop or a couple of teaspoons roll out balls of dough and dip into the cinnamon sugar. Place, well separated, on the baking sheets.
6. Bake for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are set in the centre and are beginning to crack. Remove from the oven and allow to cool as they firm up.

Baker's notes...
  • The full fat cream cheese is designed to lighten the cookies
  • As well as the traditional cinnamon dusting, recipes on the interweb include everything from spiced rum, orange clove to chai flavoured biscuits
  • When baked at the proper time of year, Christmas, using green and red glittery sugar adds a lovely festive twist


  1. This post made me smile - that is definitely the most American image I can imagine! I haven't made snickerdoodles in years and I've never tried them with cream cheese in which sounds delicous - I must give it a go.

    1. Thank you Lucy- I feel my American imagery may be just a little OTT!

  2. I was going to bake snickerdoodles myself this weekend but couldn't get hold of any cream of tartar but I've loved your story of them instead =)

    1. Thank you Laura- I'd never really heard of Snickerdoodles before our trip but they are now a firm favourite to bake

  3. These are my youngest daughter's favorite cookie - thank you!!

  4. We don't always make snickerdoodles at home, but my boys always go crazy over them whenever we do. I loved your snickerdoodle story. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Whilst your idea of a Snickerdoodle sounds fabulous, these do look very tempting. I'm rather regretting not having any I can lay my hands on right now.

    1. I think I know what flavour my next cookies will be... I still can't get the idea of the Snickers cookies out of my thoughts!


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