Do you ever wonder where some cookie names come from? The name chocolate chip cookies is easy. Ditto for brownies (defined as a cookie bar), peanut-butter, ginger-molasses, and even jumble cookies. But there was a time in early New England culinary history when cookies were given playful names like plunkets, tangle breeches, kinkawoodles, and the infinitely more familiar snickerdoodle. One can only assume these were either named by children or for them, because they were simply more fun to say.
Snickerdoodle cookies are commonly made from a soft, buttery, sugar cookie dough rolled into little balls, which are then rolled in a mixture of fine sugar and cinnamon and baked. My version is a little different and is adapted from one of the newer cookbooks by Food52 called Baking. I’ve made this cookie for a few years now, dating from when Five and Spice, a wonderful contributor to their site, first posted it. I only slightly modify it by adding orange zest to the dough and chopped dried Mission figs instead of currants. Feel free to use what you have on hand, but the figs are my personal favorite way to go.
I should note that one of the recipes in the book is mine – or well actually my great-grandmother Mamma’s – passed down through the generations for Overnight Orange Refrigerator Rolls. (A better photo by far can be found here.) Cooking and baking has come a long way over the past few hundred years, and even over the last few decades. I love the fact that both a new twist on a cookie found in early American cookbooks as well as my great-grandmother’s recipe for Orange Refrigerator Rolls that she started making in the early 1900’s were two of the recipes chosen for Food52’s cookbook. It says to me that while we treat food as a new art medium, trying new combinations of flavors, cultural traditions, and textures, and are fascinated by molecular gastronomy tricks with foam, that there is still a place at the table for recipes handed down from generation to generation. There’s something very comforting in that.
- 3 cups (13½ ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup plus 3 Tbsp Bakers Sugar, divided (regular granulated sugar can be substituted)
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt (1/2 tsp table salt)
- 2 tsp ground cardamom, divided
- orange zest from 2 oranges
- ⅔ cup finely chopped dried figs
- 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 3 eggs, well beaten
- tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.
- In a medium - large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of the Bakers Sugar, brown sugar, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp of the ground cardamom. I like to use a whisk to more evenly disperse the baking soda through the flour and sugar. Whisk in the orange zest and minced dried figs.
- In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, and vanilla extract. Pour into the flour mixture and stir using a large spoon to form a dough. Once all the flour mixture has been absorbed by the liquid, stop stirring. Continuing to stir may toughen this soft cookies. Refrigerate for 10 minutes. It's fine to refrigerate for longer, but be sure to cover the dough with plastic.
- In a small bowl, stir together the remaining cardamom and sugar.
- Roll the slightly chilled dough into 1½" balls. I weigh mine - and make them 1 ounce each. Roll the dough balls in the cardamom - sugar mixture and place them on the baking sheet 2 inches apart. These cookies spread.
- Bake for 8 minutes, or until firmed up around the edges, a little cracked on top, and golden in color. Move to a cooling rack, but feel free to help yourself to a couple while they're still warm.
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