Weekends are for cooking. At least they are in my house anyway. As soon as Friday rolls around, I inwardly start planning what I intend to create in my kitchen inbetween hardcore bouts of sitting on my arse, reading blogs, drinking wine and watching crap TV. In my opinion, if Mr. Cay hasn’t shouted at me at least once because he’s found some cake batter stuck to a wall, then it isn’t a proper weekend.
The past two days have been no exception. Yesterday I made Felicity Cloake’s epic bolognese sauce, which led to me cycling to every butchers shop in the L20 area looking for chicken livers. This morning I made a batch of brown bread that Mr. Warbuton would have been proud of. And this afternoon – looking for something sweet to snack on whilst I cracked on with reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in the bath – I decided to whip up a batch of these Chai Snickerdoodles.
Snickerdoodle. It is, when you think about it, rather a silly name for a simple sugar cookie. It sounds more like the type of treat that would be served up in an Enid Blyton story, eaten off tiny golden plates by fairy folk. As it is, these are one of the great standards of American baking – a crunchy yet soft biscuit, punchy with cinnamon.They are the kind of things that you can easily inhale ten of in one sitting, as I have found out to my cost on many an occasion.
Here, these seemingly simple cookies have been jazzed up a bit with chai spices – ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and a few cloves for good measure. They may not look like anything special when they come out of the oven, but as with so many things in life, looks can be deceptive. The end product is warm, sweet and spicy, just the thing to munch after you’ve braved the late September chill.
Chai Snickerdoodles are easy to make, and even easier to eat. They’re perfect for teatime, coffee time, or just anytime you feel like eating something coated in sugar. Which, come to think of it it, in my house, is most of the time.
CHAI SNICKERDOODLES (Makes around 20 snickerdoodles)
Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef
You will need:
For the Snickerdoodles
- 300g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar (I didn’t have any cream of tartar, so replaced this with 1 teaspoon lemon juice & 1 teaspoon vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 230g unsalted butter
- 300g white sugar
- 2 medium eggs
For the Chai Sugar
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- The seeds from 3 cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- First, make the chai sugar mix. Start by putting the seeds from the cardamom pods and the cloves in a pestle and mortar, and grinding them into a powder. Then add the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg & sugar, and combine well.
- Mix together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar (or lemon juice & vinegar if you don’t have any cream of tartar in your cupboards), and salt in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
- Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until it turns pale and fluffy. (I used my trusty hand mixer to do this, but if you’re lucky enough to own a stand mixer, pop it in there). Now, add your eggs – one at a time.
- Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients into one big bowl. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to roll out some snickerdoodles. Take tablespoons of the mix, and roll them into balls with your hands, then dunk them thoroughly into the sugar. Don’t worry if the batter seems a bit sloppy and goes everywhere, it’s supposed to be like that and the sugar will firm them up a bit. Place the balls of dough onto a well greased baking sheet until the mix is all used up.
- Bake the snickerdoodles on Gas Mark 4/200 degrees centigrade for around 15 minutes, or until they turn brown and crackly on top. Once done, take them out of the oven and leave them to rest until cooled. If you try to eat them when they’re warm, they’ll be too soft and cakey.
- Serve with coffee and a good book. Or, alternatively, you can just inhale them in your pants whilst watching Match for the Day. Whatever’s good for you. Apparently these keep for around five days, but I defy anyone not to eat an entire batch of these in the space of 24 hours.