One of my favorite thing about Christmas is the baking traditions that have grown up around this holiday. Top of that list for me is Christmas cookies. I adore cookies and always have. In fact, my very first attempt at baking (somewhere around the age of 7) was to make sugar cookies. I made them so often, that I quickly had the recipe memorized. But despite the fact that I could recite it word-perfect to my mother, she still insisted I open the cookbook and follow the directions. Mothers are like that….
With this love of cookies, I’m sure you’ll understand that I enjoyed learning about chai snickerdoodles, a contest winner in 2012 created by Andrea Hicks of Keller, TX. It combines the basics of snickerdoodles – an All-American cookie if there ever was one – with the flavor of trendy chai tea. The only gotcha is the use of two ingredients you might not have. One is chai tea latte mix, which is available at many Walmart stores. The other is Hershey’s cinnamon chips. Not all stores carry these chips but you can use butterscotch chips instead.
Finally, I can’t pass up a brief word about the name “snickerdoodles.” Those who have been with me over the years know I love learning about the origin of words. According to The Joy of Cooking, the name probably comes from a corruption of the German word Schneckennudeln (“snail noodles”). I can see how this German word could be changed over time into snickerdoodles but “snail noodles” has absolute nothing to do with a non-noodle cookie that is definitely not shaped like a snail. My favorite explanation is that this is just another nonsense name for a food, a time-honored tradition of the New England and Pennsylvania Dutch regions. Some other nonsense food names from that region include Graham Jakes, Jolly Boys, Branble, Tangle Breeches, and Kinkawoodles. Whatever the origin of the name, it’s a great cookie…whether you make the old-fashioned one using cream of tartar, or the new one with chai tea mix.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cinnamon or butterscotch chips
- 4 tablespoons chai tea latte mix
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Measure out the chai mix and place in a small bowl. Set aside for later.
- Combine butter, sugars, and eggs and mix until smooth. Add dry ingredients (flour through salt) and stir well until a soft dough forms. Stir in the cinnamon or butterscotch chips.
- With a small spoon and your fingers, form 1-inch balls of dough and roll them in the chai mix until evenly coated. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet, about two inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass or a cookie stamp.
- Bake 7-9 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes to help them firm up before moving them to a cooling rack.