Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Once upon a time, there was a young girl who loved to bake cookies. Only no one wanted to eat them. This is because the young girl over-baked all her cookies, making them into hard, crunchy, hockey-puck-like discs that tasted warm, soft and moist out of the oven, but within 20 minutes became brittle and tough. The young girl was distraught. What was she doing wrong? She kept on baking, without knowing her error, and continued this through to adulthood, until the day her eldest sister flew up from San Antonio and made cookies. The young girl, now a middle-aged woman, watched with amazement as her sister removed the cookies from the oven when they looked still raw, with only a little brown around the edges. This, she learned, was the secret! The cookies continued baking out of the oven, her wise older sister instructed her, so if you take them out when they are a little mushy in the middle, they will complete their cooking on the counter, slowly and evenly, providing you with a soft, moist cookie that retains its softness long into the next couple of days, if they lasted that long.
That lesson was a long time in learning for this middle-aged woman! Now my cookies are loved by most everyone for this very thing! They taste the same the next day in my kids' lunches as they did right out of the oven (minus the warmth).
Enter the snickerdoodle. This delightful cinnamon-sugared cookie has long been a favorite of mine, and since I'd been taught the mystical cookie baking secret, I thought I would once again attempt the snickerdoodle. Alas, I overcooked them! I did the same trick as I did with chocolate chip cookies - when the edges just started to brown, I took them out of the oven and let them rest on the counter. Little did I know, that when the edges start to brown on a snickerdoodle, it's already too late for these delicate cookies. Snickers are a special cookie that require special treatment. They aren't supposed to brown. They don't follow the rules of the oven. One batch may take 10 minutes and 30 seconds to cook, while the next identical batch only requires 9 minutes and 30 seconds. You have to watch them hawk-like, if you want soft, chewy cookies. And you do want soft, chewy cookies, because there really isn't anything quite like the sweet and spicy taste of a snickerdoodle.
But I digress. I've finally mastered this cookie and did it with a recipe from one of the kings of cooking...Mr. Emeril Lagasse.
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup shortening
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 3 tablespoons
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.
3. With a handheld or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth.
4. Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll the dough, by hand, into 1 1/2-inch balls. Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar. Flatten the balls into 1/2-inch thick disks, spacing them evenly on unlined cookie sheets. Bake until light brown, but still moist in the center, about 12 minutes. **WATCH THEM CLOSELY - my three pans took 10 minutes, 30 seconds, 10 minutes and 9 minutes, 30 seconds concurrently.** Cool on a rack.