I’ve always wondered why snickerdoodles have such an odd name. I figured they weren’t some genetic freakshow combining a Snickers bar and a labradoodle, though stranger things have happened. To put this cookie mystery to bed, I did what all members of my generation do when in doubt…I Wikipedia-ed it. If it’s on the internet, it must be true.
According to Wikipedia, there are two potential explanations of the odd name for this classic cookie. Door #1: “Snickerdoodle” is a base slaughtering of the German word Schneckennudel, which Wikipedia reports is a German pastry literally translating to “snail noodle.”Door #2: “Snickerdoodle” is simply an entirely made-up word, as per what Wikipedia refers to as “a New England tradition of whimsical cookie names.” Having had the opportunity to drive through certain…interesting…traffic intersections in New England (I’m thinking of you, Boston), I’d say the cookie names aren’t the only whimsical aspects of New England life.
Be they “snail noodles” or Lewis-Carroll-esque word fabrications, snickerdoodles have sufficient good qualities to compensate for their dubious name — kind of like cronuts. A big, face-sized, bakery-baked snickerdoodle is a pleasure that few things in this world can parallel. Snickerdoodles were one of the first cookies that I learned to make as a kid, and though there is absolutely nothing wrong the classic snickerdoodle recipe, I did feel the need to adulterate the recipe slightly by — you guessed it — browning the butter.
Anybody who has read my blog before knows that I’m a bit of a brownbutterophile (to use the scientific term). That warm, nutty flavor is just so delicious and so versatile that I can’t resist experimenting with all of my classic butter-containing recipes to see if they can benefit from a bit of browning.
As a caution, browning the butter — like any prescription drug you see advertised during Jeopardy! commercials — has side effects. A 1:1 substitution of browned butter for unbrowned butter will result in a different cookie texture…not bad, just different! The best way to minimize these side effects is to tell your doctor all of the medications you are currently taking – including herbal supplements – and about any planned medical or dental procedures. Just kidding! The best way to minimize textural changes is to chill your browned butter back to a solid state, then remove the butter from the fridge to soften to room temperature just as you would unbrowned butter. I know the extra steps take time, BUUUTTTTT, if you aren’t having a cookie emergency and can afford the chill, go for it!
Brown Butter Snickerdoodles
1 stick butter, browned and cooled back to a solid state, then softened to room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
Rolling mixture: 3 tablespoons granulated sugar + 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, use a mixer (stand or hand) to cream together cooled brown butter and both sugars, until pale and fluffy, ~3 minutes on medium speed. Add egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and beat 2 more minutes.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, use a fork to aerate and combine baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, and flour. Turn mixer down to low, and gradually add dry ingredients into wet. Mix ~1 minute, until ingredients are JUST combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in cinnamon chips. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and chill dough 4-24 hours.
When ready to bake cookies, remove bowl from fridge 1 to 1 1/2 hours prior to baking — dough should be easy to handle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Combine rolling mixture ingredients in a small bowl. Roll tablespoonfuls of dough between palms, then plop balls into rolling mixture, and shake bowl to coat dough ball. Place coated dough balls on parchment-lined cookie sheets, spaced 2″ apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes (depending on your oven and rack position), rotating sheets halfway through bake time — cookies should be removed from oven when puffed, ever-so-slightly-golden at the edges, and no longer wet on the top. Let cool on sheets 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 5 days.