I hope I don’t alienate the four people who read this blog by saying… cookies have just never really done it for me. Particularly cookies with fruit in them (with the exception of oatmeal raisin–I know, I know…), I can walk right by without batting an eye. And, even when I do eat cookies, I can usually resist eating more than one. The way I see some people eat cookies, it should be considered a superpower. There have been too many family get-togethers featuring dry, crumbly, flavorless cookies for me to really get into them. Plus, I have the benefit of a resident chocolate chip cookie making expert in the form of a husband, so I never had to worry about it. I’ve always considered myself pretty inept at cookie making. I made chocolate chip cookies one time a hundred years ago and they were average at best, so I threw in the towel and went back to making cakes, my one true love. Then, a few Christmases ago, I had to make some cookies for an office holiday party. I gave chocolate crinkle cookies a try. A simple cookie. No big deal. Or so I thought! They. Were. AWESOME! And I ate so many of them. I finally understood compulsive cookie eating! And, even if my stomach hated me immediately, it was wonderful and completely worth it. I get it now. I get it.
I get it so much, in fact, that I actually couldn’t wait to start making holiday cookies. For my first cookie of the season, I chose a classic: the humble snickerdoodle. First, let me say that this post is bringing my childhood flooding back. I chose the snickerdoodle not because I have special snickerdoodle memories from childhood, but instead, for James Whitcomb Riley. James Whitcomb Riley was born on October 7 (today!), 1849, in Indiana. He is known as the”Hoosier Poet,” for writing in Indiana dialect. I know him, though, as the writer of my absolute favorite poem as a child, Little Orphant Annie, which my mom read to me when I was little. It’s a slightly terrifying poem to read, even as an adult. It’s a bit of a moral lesson about saying your prayers and not making fun of people and helping the needy, otherwise you’ll be snatched away by the goblins! Yes, goblins! To be honest, I was a pretty weird little kid. I couldn’t wait for Halloween, I read every ghost story I could get my hands on, and I liked to listen to scary music just to freak myself out. This might better help you to understand my glee when my mom would pull her book of Riley’s poetry out of the bottom drawer of her dresser, sit me next to her on the edge of her bed all tucked up under her arm, and read this spooky little poem. For extra effect, she would even raise her voice and reach out to grab me at the scariest part of the poem, “And the goblins will get you, if you don’t watch out!” Perhaps questionable mothering of a child who
was is still afraid of the dark, but I loved every second and I have the best memories of it, even now. It does still scare me though…
So today, I celebrate James Whitcomb Riley’s birthday with a snickerdoodle, which I learned, through a little research, was his favorite cookie. (Not only that, but yesterday was National Poetry Day. How fitting!)
Clearly, these are not traditional snickerdoodles, but they’re not too far off. Snickerdoodles are delicious, obviously, but you know what else is delicious? Chocolate. Yeah, so I tossed some chocolate into these puppies (just kidding, I carefully tested this recipe, but doesn’t that make baking sound more fun and free-spiritied?). Turns out, chocolate did its job and made an already-delicious cookie even more delicious. If you like snickerdoodles and you like chocolate, you’re going to want to try these. They are chewy and cinnamony and omg I ate like 4 immediately after taking them out of the oven, which I highly suggest. Then I had more later and found that they had only improved, with the cinnamon becoming more evident. Not surprisingly, chocolate and cinnamon are a match made in cookie heaven.
Easy Chewy Chocolate Snickerdoodles
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp instant espresso powder
4 tbsp sugar, for coating
4 tsp cinnamon, for coating
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Mix 4 tbsp sugar with 4 tsp of cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla. Beat until fluffy.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, salt, cocoa and espresso powder.
Slowly begin mixing the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in batches, until there are no dry streaks left. The batter will not be wet, it will appear more like a thick frosting.
Begin scooping out the batter in small balls (I used the large scoop on my melon baller) and drop them into the sugar. Coat lightly with the sugar to make the ball easier to form into a ball. Then, drop the rolled ball back into the sugar to coat lightly again, before dropping onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. I was able to get about 11-12 balls on each cookie sheet.
Bake at 325 degrees for 11-12 minutes, turning the cookie sheet in the oven halfway through.
After baking, immediately move cookies to a cooling rack.
One last note: I only recently heard about Dorie Greenspan’s #cookiesandkindness campaign, with a simple request for people to bake cookies and share them. That sounded like a challenge that I absolutely wanted to accept, so that’s what I did. I made cookies. I shared them, and now I’m sharing this recipe with you. What a wonderful idea! Thanks, Dorie!