I have eaten an absurd amount of cookies this past week. One of my vendors gave me a gorgeous jar stuffed with 6 different kinds of homemade cookies (chocolate crackles, shortbread, cranberry biscotti, Italian walnut cookies, iced snowflake sugar cookies and adorable chocolate chip minis) last Wednesday, one of my coworkers happily fed me a smiling gingerbread man shortbread sandwich cookie filled with cream cheese candy cane frosting for dessert during lunch today, and I have eaten at least half a dozen of my own cookies between Sunday afternoon and today. I’m surprised I haven’t turned INTO a cookie!
The smell of cookies is just intoxicating though and truly one of the happiest, yummiest things to have in your home. Cookies have always given me a run for my money since I started to seriously bake in 2011 (as you will soon read below), working out only half the time and either burning or tasting blah the other half. But I love cookies to pieces (eating, baking, photographing and scrapbooking about them) and there’s nothing like the sound of cracking eggs and a whirring mixer, the smell of chocolate, the feeling of cookie dough delicious enough to eat all on its own between your hands and the feeling of mastering a cookie recipe and being rewarded with fresh cookies that are perfect and tasty to boot!
We are knee-deep into the holiday baking blitz and this is the first of hopefully a handful of new recipes that I’ll be posting in the next little while. What I have for all of you today: CHOCOLATE SNICKERDOODLES! A classic cookie (snickerdoodle = cinnamon sugar cookie) made that more more awesome with the addition of chocolate! While the recipe isn’t exactly brand new (it’s from Food & Wine’s November 2011 issue), it’s a recipe that definitely deserves to be kept in the holiday cookie recipe vault. It’s gorgeous, it’s delicious and best of all, it uses the most basic of ingredients. No need to schlep out into the snow to pick up some hard-to-find, expensive ingredient that you’ll only end up using once. I was so grateful for this when the cookies didn’t work out for me the first time 2 weekends ago.
I don’t know what it is about my oven. I can bake cake. I can bake quick breads. I can bake muffins and bars and squares without so much as a lick of trouble. But cookies? It’s like my oven has a freakin’ mind of its own. Half the time my cookies work and half the time they don’t and I’m constantly having to course correct as I go. Which in and of itself is fine! Baking and cooking are learning experiences and you won’t become a better baker or cook unless you flub up and learn from your mistakes.
But! It’s so frustrating for me when it doesn’t work because I don’t get to bake all the time. The whole point is for me to take photos and share recipes that I’ve tried with you all and to post about them, which completely eliminates workdays and weeknights and weekend nights (too dark to take photos). Add to that the days when I’m out and about gathering content for Ate by Ate and not actually at home. So my window of time is limited and when a recipe doesn’t work, I have to wait a whole week just to be able to try it out again. Which I did for this one because I refused to admit defeat and I refused to believe that the recipe was bad.
What happened the first time was that the bottoms of the cookies burned. To a crisp. Black as hockey pucks burnt. My mom had to frantically shut the oven off earlier than the stated bake time so smoke wouldn’t start billowing out for real. And I stood there looking at them completely befuddled because I had followed the recipe to a tee. My heart sunk. I had promised my dad and brother chocolate cookies and now I had to tell them that they had burned and that they’d have to wait a week before I could try again. We sadly chucked them all in the green bin garbage and while I sat at the dinner table fuming, I thought about how I was going to change the recipe to make it work: lower the temperature, decrease bake time, and double pan my baking sheet.
The result one week later? PERFECT Chocolate Snickerdoodle Cookies! Score one for team Cookie Bitch.
Recipe for Chocolate Snickerdoodles (taken from November 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine)
Makes 36 small cookies or 24 medium cookies
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons), softened
- 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided (*Deb’s Note: you really don’t need this much, 1-1/4 cups is enough)
- 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t have unsweetened so I just used Baker’s Bittersweet)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (*Deb’s Note: to make this recipe work for me, I lowered it to 375°F the first time since I knew my oven ran hot. When that still didn’t work, I lowered it to 350°F for the 2nd time)
- In a bowl, sift the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In another bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with 1 cup of the sugar until creamy (*Deb’s Note: seriously, beat the heck out of it. Don’t stop beating until it’s literally almost white). Add the melted chocolate and the egg and beat until smooth. (*Deb’s Note: because it’s winter and it’s cold, I found it was better to melt the chocolate after creaming the butter and sugar and just stirring until slightly cooled. I melted it before creaming the butter and sugar the first time and by the time I was ready to use it, it had hardened again). Beat in the dry ingredients until incorporated.
- In a shallow bowl, mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon sugar. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten to 2-inch rounds (*Deb’s Note: I did this the first time and didn’t like the way they turned out so what I did the 2nd time was roll them into balls, place them on the baking sheet, flatten them with my palm, THEN dip one side in the cinnamon sugar, placing them back on the baking sheets with the sugar side facing up. I found that rolling them and then flattening them removed some of the sugar as it stuck to my palm and just made a mess out of the baking sheets)
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are puffed and cracked (*Deb’s Note: I decreased the bake time for mine by a lot. Mine were perfect and done in 8 minutes). Transfer to racks and let cool.