In My Kitchen: My Favorite Cookies

When I was barely out of kindergarten I had my first baking lesson. My mother taught me how to make sugar cookies, about as simple as a recipe can get. Measure, stir, put teaspoons full on a baking sheet, bake, and eat. Here was a household task I could really get into. I made those cookies again and again, being highly motivated by the immediate reward. I became so proficient that I once bragged to my mother that I didn’t need to open the cookbook (the big red Betty Crocker of the 1950’s) because I had the recipe memorized.

Over time my repertoire of cookies expanded to peanut butter, chocolate chip, and beyond. I added other baked items – cakes, brownies, muffins, cheesecake, pies, and more. But my favorites have always been cookies in general and snickerdoodles in particular, a delicious cookie with an odd name – and an unusual ingredient.

Snickerdoodles contain cream of tartar, an item I never used in anything else. When I was a child I assumed the grown-ups knew what it was. Years later I learned the truth. People buy it but haven’t a clue as to where it comes from. A little digging on the Internet revealed that cream of tartar was first discovered as a by-product of wine making. Crystals of cream of tartar (aka potassium bitartrate) form on the underside of a cork in a wine bottle kept chilled in wine cellars. How anyone thought of trying this in baking is beyond me. However it happened, the result is a cookie with a unique flavor. If you’ve never tried them, here’s the recipe I use. They’re perfect for munching on in crisp fall weather. Add a cup of hot chocolate or cider and you have a real treat.





1/2 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup of shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
To Coat the Cookies
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon

How to Make It

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well and add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Mix until evenly blended.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon. Shape rounded tablespoonfuls of dough into balls. Roll dough balls in sugar and cinnamon mixture and place 2" apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are set, being careful not to overbake. Remove from oven and place immediately onto wire racks to cool. Makes 4 dozen.

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