New Englanders love to give silly names to simple dishes, just for the sake of saying them!
My granddaughter asked to make snickerdoodles the other day. She asked me multiple times, using the word as much as possible because it is really lots of fun to say. “It should be a grandmother to make snickerdoodles for her grandchildren the first time because snickerdoodles are fun,” she said to me. “Let’s make snickerdoodles. Snickerdoodles!”
So, we made snickerdoodles.
For those of you unfamiliar with this regional cookie, it is simple but flavorful. It uses a modest handful of pantry ingredients, they require little fuss, and the batch fills a cookie jar and a whole lot more. Flour, sugar, salt, a couple of eggs, a bit of butter, some milk and vanilla, all scented with nutmeg, and you’re ready to top with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. It’s all about the cinnamon. Some recipes call for raisins, but we all think they are better plain (there’s always a raisin hater in the family).
A few ways around the recipe
I also found some recipes with nuts in them, which I think would be delicious but we have some nut allergies in our clan. Most of the recipes I found used a fair amount of butter, so I stuck with my mother’s which used only 4 tablespoons. I also used plain white sugar, although some recipes called for brown.
In her book “The Book of New England Cookery,” by Judith and Evan Jones (yes, the Julia Child publisher Judith) her recipe used even less butter, just a couple of tablespoons. Her introduction to the cookie from the American Heritage Cookbook was amusing:
“New England cooks had a penchant for giving odd names to their dishes – apparently for no other reason than the fun of saying them. Snickerdoodles come from a tradition of this sort, which includes Graham Jacks, Jolly Boys, Brambles, Tangled Breeches, and Kinkawoodles.” Translation follows.
A forgiving recipe
I used organic white sugar which isn’t very white and more coarse that standard white. You can also use brown if you like. I had oat milk on hand, so that is what I used here. You can substitute any plant or dairy milk you like.
Make them your way
This recipe is based on one my mother used, with a few updates, originally from Mrs.Clara Rose Hatfield of Somerville, Mass., but with no raisins. I you like, you can add a cup of chopped raisins or nuts. You can do this by hand or with a mixer. It goes together quickly. The cinnamon/sugar topping we used was a 1:3 ratio.
So, say it three times fast, and make a batch!
- 2 cups of sugar, sifted
- 2 eggs, well beaten
- 4 tbsp. butter or vegan butter, softened
- 4 cups flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg, we used freshly grated
- 1 cup milk, I used oat milk
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- Sugar and cinnamon to top
Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Add sugar to eggs, then stir or beat in butter.
Mix and sift the dry ingredients and add alternately with the milk and vanilla.Drop by cookie scoop or tablespoons onto the sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. They will spread.
Sprinkle the cookies generously with sugar and cinnamon.
Bake 20 minutes, then cool on wire rack.
Makes 40 cookies!
Just because you always wanted to know…
Graham Jacks – A graham cookie often filled or used in ice-cream sandwiches.
Jolly Boys – A rye drop cookie or small cake.
Brambles – A raisin filled pastry cookie.
Tangled Breeches – A deep-fried cookie strip dusted with powdered sugar.
Kinkawoodles – Similar to a snickerdoodle, but the dough is formed into round balls and chilled first.
Joe Froggers – A rum molasses spice cookie cut out with a brandy snifter. Heavy on the rum.
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