Traditions are very well and good, as are traditional recipes. But every tradition can use a little spice now and again, if for no other reason than to cultivate a new appreciation for the original. This is evidenced to an extreme by the rise of the molecular gastronomy movement, which was accompanied by a hugely renewed interest in traditional comfort food. Here, we’re taking the “spice” literally and merely updating a classic cookie with a few new flavors.
Snickerdoodles, which I have mentioned before, are one of the great standards in American cookies. In spite of their plain appearance and total lack of chocolate (often a deal-breaker for some cookie eaters), the chewy vanilla cookie with the crunchy cinnamon sugar coating is pretty close to perfect in both texture and flavor. It is a unique and hugely satisfying balance that you won’t find in many other cookies. They’re the kind of cookie that absolutely everyone enjoys.
The standard recipe calls for you to roll the unbaked dough in cinnamon sugar before placing the cookies on a cookie sheet. For these, I updated the flavors from the old standbys to a somewhat trendier combination of chai spices, using cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and allspice both in the dough itself and for the coating.
These spiced up cookies cookies are wonderfully crunchy on the outside – thanks to their sugary coating – and chewy on the inside, just like the classic. The chai flavors come through enough to twist the traditionally basic flavor of the cookies, but aren’t strong enough to dissuade die-hard traditionalists from enjoying a classic.
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup butter, soft
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine sugar and spices; remove 1/2 cup of this mixture and place in a medium-sized, shallow dish or bowl (like a soup plate). Add butter to bowl and cream with sugar mixture until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda. Add to sugar mixture and stir until fully incorporated.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place on baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls to allow for spreading.
Bake for about 12 minutes, until edges are firm to the touch, but not quite browned. Cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 4 dozen.