April 5, 2012


These delightful cookies have been in my life as long as I can remember. They are the first cookies I learned to master and I probably baked them solo for the first time when I was about five. Snickerdoodles are part of my earliest memories; they have been present at parties, school socials, bake sales, choir trips, cookouts, Christmas gatherings, and so on. These snickerdoodles are made of absolute magic. I'm still not sure where the recipe came from - heaven, probably.

One of my earliest childhood memories involves baking snickerdoodles. I remember feeling like it was very late at night, when it was probably only just after supper. My mom was mixing up the ingredients in her ancient Bosch mixer and I was standing on a chair on the opposite side of the counter, watching her every move. She had gotten so far as to mix the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla when the phone rang. Our phone had a very long cord, so she left the kitchen to talk. All I remember is that I was alone with that glorious mixture. So golden and well-mixed, fluffy with egg whites and dense with sugar. Who wouldn't stick in a chubby 3-year-old finger and take a lick? I stood on my tiptoes and scraped my finger through the fattest part of the mixture. Oh if only I had been sleuthier! I left a deep finger-link imprint in that dough, and it was the first thing Mom saw when she came back.

She was not happy. Not because I had taken a lick but because I was standing there on my chair, lying my chubby little heart out. It wasn't me; I don't know where that came from; I didn't do it. I got lectured, I got cajoled, and I almost got spanked. To this day, I don't know why I didn't. God knows I deserved it, lying to my patient, cookie-baking mother like that. So I felt terrible afterwards, and I still do. But Mom doesn't remember that night, and even though the experience made a profound impression on my tiny soul, it may have helped keep snickerdoodles in my life forever. Though now I tell the truth: I sample cookie dough - with a spoon. Fingers are so 1986.

I am contributing these lovely 'doodles to my even lovelier friend Katy, who is organizing a bake sale to fund this fall's Get Heeled 5K. Quoth Katy, this race promotes active living, community outreach, and most of all, families affected by cancer. Proceeds from this very bake sale (plus registration fees for the race as well as outside fundraising) will go directly to the Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Supportive Care Services at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. (If you'd like to know more about Katy's amazing work and this very meaningful cause, you can follow the event on Facebook (GetHeeled5K) or on Leinberger's event page.)

While I'm sure that snickerdoodles don't promote healthy living quite as much as a 5K, they certainly do nourish the soul. These are cookies that stay in your life forever. Make these for your own community bake sale, for your friends' next cookout, for your family or your little daughters. Just make sure they don't lie about sneaking bites.

Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Cinnamon-sugar mix
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar. Gradually add to butter mixture and mix until flour is just incorporated. 

Preheat oven to 375 F and pop the dough in the refrigerator for about half an hour to chill and mellow. Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and allspice together in a small bowl and spray a cookie sheet or cover with parchment paper. 

Roll dough into 1" balls and then roll in cinnamon mixture. Position about 2-3 inches apart on cookie sheet, because they will spread a little. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tops are crinkly and round. It took 9 minutes in my oven.

Let cool as long as you can stand it (30 seconds to 1 hour). Store in airtight container. 


  1. Love the last instruction: "cool as long as you can stand it." You thought of me when writing that, admit it.

  2. Hahaha I DID! These things are so tempting...I know I've tried them when they were just too hot! Worth it every time though.