I swear I can usually keep a secret. Unless it is really good. Or funny. Or I’m bored. Or it’s raining out. Or…maybe I can’t keep a secret. But let’s put aside whether you will ever trust me with your privileged information again, because I have big news, everyone. There is a secret in these snickerdoodles, and I am going to reveal it.
“But why? What did these helpless snickerdoodles ever do to you, Alice?” you ask. “Oh, the humanity/cookiemanity!” I hear you crying. Well, for one, baking these made my apartment smell so overpowered by butter and cinnamon that I had not one or two, but five before I went to bed last night. Guys, I baked these an hour before I went to bed. I had FIVE cookies in one hour. I brushed my teeth for the night, and went back for one more. I’m pretty sure I got up in the middle of the night and helped myself to another. I’d be ashamed, but I’m not. I had two with coffee this morning. You’ll understand when you make them. I could go on about what these snickerdoodles did to me (besides expand my waistline), but as far as I’m concerned, their ceaseless temptation is enough of a reason to share their secret with you. So, drum roll please. My Big Snickerdoodle Secret is…
Ground cayenne pepper.
I started with a simple snickerdoodle recipe, and added ground cayenne pepper to the dusting the cookies get rolled in right before they are baked. And I don’t think I will ever go back to making snickerdoodles the plain old way. After all, I’m 24, not 84. Let’s live a little!
The cayenne adds an excellent kick at the backend of the cookie, without overwhelming the cinnamon, and it definitely adds to the warmth of the spices. Basically, this is a grown up snickerdoodle. Not for babies. You’ve been warned, babies.
Makes about 35-45 cookies, depending on what size you want
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (This is something you find in the spice section, not the dairy section, which is what I thought for years.)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, and don’t you dare use less
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, more or less depending on taste
2 large eggs
Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, sift 1 1/2 cups of the sugar. In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sifted sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. This should take about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, and beat just until combined. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the sifted dry ingredients, and beat just to combine, doing one final scrape down of the bowl.
Now you can either put your dough in the fridge for at least an hour to make it a little easier to work with, or you can store it to bake another day. This is a great recipe for preparing ahead of time and baking when the mood for cookies strikes you.
Once you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, the ground cinnamon, and the ground cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Now, this is the point where a lot of recipes call for using a teeny tiny ice cream scooper to scoop cute little balls of the dough. Let’s not be hoity-toity–you can use your hands. Create balls of the dough somewhat smaller than ping pong balls. Roll these balls in the sugar and spice mixture. Place on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes (though be very careful not to overcook), rotating the baking sheet at the five-minute mark. These cookies do not brown, and are ready when they have had a “cracked” appearance for a couple of minutes.
These are the perfect treat for the chilly Fall days we’ve been having, and a great cookie for lovers of all things spicy (a.k.a. Harry). On that note: Happy Birthday, Harry! Thanks for making me consider adding spices to any and all recipes.