Pretty much every snickerdoodle recipe I’ve encountered calls for a ratio of one part baking soda to two parts cream of tartar. That is essentially the recipe for single-acting baking powder–and yet baking powder doesn’t yield the classic snickerdoodle flavor. Apparently there’s just something about cream of tartar…. The King Arthur Flour site has an intriguing disquisition on leavening–hartshorn? really? I thought hartshorn was strictly for fainting ladies in Victorian novels–that discusses cream of tartar at some length.
You’ll find lots of variations–I’ve seen people boast of adding chocolate chips and dried apricots and coconut to snickerdoodle dough–but I think the point of a cookie like this is its very simplicity. So you won’t find any extras here, and you won’t find baking powder either. I’m not saying a snickerdoodle made with baking powder isn’t good–it is–but it’s a sugar cookie, not a snickerdoodle. Go figure.
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cream together the butter, sugar and eggs. Sift the dry ingredients. (Modern flour doesn’t require sifting, but it’s important to distribute the baking soda throughout the batter, and sifting is an easy way to do that.) Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-egg mixture.
If the dough is too gooey to handle, chill it for about half an hour. I generally do not chill my dough, which might be why my cookies turn out different from Hazel’s, even though we use the same recipe. I wet my hands and roll dough into one-inch balls. Dip each one into the cinnamon sugar and place on an ungreased cookie sheet (I love my Silpats and always use them) about two inches apart. Bake for eight to ten minutes, until they are barely brown. They will puff up and then flatten out, leaving the tops crinkled. This recipe makes about five dozen cookies, just the right amount for a party, but you can halve the recipe–useful tip: half of 3/4 cup is six tablespoons.
You know my usual advice: Eat them hot out of the oven.