Snickerdoodles wait to be eaten. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

Snickerdoodles wait to be eaten. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

THE COOKING HOBBYIST: Mix and remix until the recipe is right

SNICKERDOODLES HAVE BECOME the bane of my baking existence.

Last summer, through a smartphone app called Yummly, I found a recipe for the cookies that tastes awesome.

It has a few issues, though.

The first time I tried the recipe, I ended up with what looked like doughnt-hole snickerdoodles. The dough I had rolled just barely flattened.

Additionally, I forgot to leave the butter out so it wasn’t room temperature. Cutting up two sticks of butter sounds easy, but is quite greasy, and … pungent.

This is a mistake I’ll never make again.

When the butter was cut up, I tried mixing it with the other ingredients, but because it was still on the cold side, I just ended up with little squares of butter with some sugar and other ingredients on them.

Not ideal for rolling cookies.

So, let’s call the first failed experiment of the snickerdoodle my fault for not leaving the butter out and for being slightly (probably incredibly) impatient.

As I said, the cookies tasted delicious, though, so I persisted.

The second time I tried this recipe, I cut it in half. The original recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups flour and I’m not very strong so mixing in that much flour is quite the task for me.

I also, if I’m remembering correctly, had only one stick of butter so half the recipe was a better idea anyway.

Cutting it in half proved to be a problem in itself, though. One-quarter cup of brown sugar becomes 1/8 and I don’t have a 1/8 measuring cup. So I measure out 1/4 cup brown sugar and then slowly add it in until it looks like I’ve used about half.

That same problem cropped up for cutting 1 1/4 cup sugar in half. The one cup part is easy; that became half a cup. But again, I don’t have a 1/8 measuring cup. So I followed the same strategy I used for the brown sugar, using half a cup of sugar and then adding about half of a 1/4 cup.

Basically, I dial it in until the dough tastes good. (FYI, I have quite the sweet tooth, so I generally use the full additional 1/4 cup. What can I say? I’m a health rebel.)

Finally, math and flour reared their ugly heads in a combined effort to derail my cookie plans. How do you cut 2 3/4 cups in half? Again, the 2 cups was easy, that’s just one cup. But what is half of 3/4? Math isn’t my strong suit; if it were, I would probably be in a different field besides journalism.

On the calculator, 3/4 obviously becomes 0.75. That cut in half becomes 0.375. One-third cup is 0.33 so I figured I needed a little more than 1 1/3 cups flour.

Whew. Who would have thought baking would require so much math?

Now that I had the recipe cut in half — or a close approximation, anyway — I set out to try these pesky cookies again.

I followed my somewhat doubtful measurements and got what I like to call small cake-cookies: They tasted like cookies, but were quite thick. The dough flattened a tad more than the first time, but not by much.

Feeling more than a little frustrated with this baking battle of the wills, I turned to my grandmother.

I was halfway through telling her the problem when Grandma — 90-years-old and 5 feet of fiesty — interrupted me with, “You’re using too much flour. The dough is too stiff.”

Go figure.

So last weekend, I tried the recipe again. The only adjustment I made this time was to use just one cup of flour.

I put the cookies in for about eight minutes. I waited (rather impatiently) while they baked. I took the pan out of the oven and yelled: “I’ve got flat cookies!”

I’m not embarrassed to admit this exuberant moment included a small, Snoopy-esque dance in my kitchen.

Victory tastes so sweet.

Snickerdoodle cookies modified from a recipe by Jessica on stuckonsweet.com (https://tinyurl.com/PDN-Snickerdoodles)

Cookies:

1 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cups granulated sugar

1/8 cup dark brown sugar (light brown sugar will work, too)

1 large egg, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2½ teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking pan with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.

In a bowl (I use the measuring cup that comes with my sifter), mix together dry ingredients — flour, baking powder, salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (hand-held mixers work too. Or you can just mix it by hand like I do because I don’t have fancy equipment), cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Next add vanilla extract and eggs one at a time, mixing after each. Scrape down sides of the bowl as necessary.

With mixer on low-speed, gradually add the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until incorporated, do not over-mix though. (Again, having no fancy mixer, I just stir with a wooden spoon until everything looks mixed).

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes to chill. You can also place in the refrigerator if you plan on making the cookies later. You do not have to chill the dough, but it is much easier to roll into a ball if it is chilled a little.

To make the cinnamon sugar, mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.

Measure about 1½ tablespoons of dough (I used 1 tablespoon most recently to try to get flat cookies), roll into a ball and then roll in cinnamon sugar and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes (mine baked for 8). You do not want to over bake because snickerdoodle cookies are known for their soft and chewy texture. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on baking sheet then move to cookie sheet to cool completely. Cookies will flatten a little as they cool.

Try not to eat them all immediately (I’m more successful with this on some days than others).

________

Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.

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