Just Like Someone Else's Grandma Used to Make: Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles

While I am always trying new recipes, there are a few I consider to be top of class that I return to time and again. For instance, I'm convinced that Jacques Torres has the perfect recipe (this one) for chocolate chip cookies and I generally don't even bother trying other ones. In the same way, for over a decade I used Alice Medrich's recipe for snickerdoodles, to the exclusion of all others. But I've abandoned it since discovering the Brown Butter Snickerdoodles from Baked Elements.

I thought that Ben Mim's cookbook Sweet & Southern might offer another candidate for snickerdoodle glory -- a recipe for "Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles" that he describes as "ridiculously overindulgent" and "[m]ore of an ooey-gooey drug in disk form than a normal cookie."

The recipe is straightforward. You beat room temperature cream cheese with softened butter, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until fluffy; add eggs; and incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt). You scoop out the dough and form it into balls, and roll each ball in cinnamon sugar. Then you flatten the cookies, chill them, and bake.
This recipe confirmed to me that Mims uses some sort of random number generator when coming up with his yields and portion sizes. The stated yield on the previous recipe I made was grossly inaccurate; the same was true for the snickerdoodles. The recipe claims to yield 48 cookies and instructs you to portion the dough with a one-ounce/two-tablespoon scoop. I used a #30 scoop, which is just a hair over an ounce, and I got 28 cookies. They also took 16 minutes to bake, instead of the 10 minutes stated in the recipe.

My cookies did not look at all like the ones in the cookbook photo. The ones in the photo are pale and wrinkly. Mine were rotund and golden brown from the cinnamon-sugar coating. (I don't think I overbaked my cookies, because I followed the instructions to bake them until they were set.) I thought these cookies were quite disappointing, because they were neither gooey nor indulgent -- they were cakey, which I really dislike.

I don't intend on making these cookies again -- I'll stick with the Baked Elements recipe that is my current snickerdoodle standard. But I don't consider these cookies a total loss. I received some nice feedback on the cookies from my tasters, including a lovely voicemail from a colleague. She said that her grandmother used to make cookies just like these, pack them in a shoebox, and send them to her at sleepaway camp. My co-worker said that eating these cookies took her right back to her Grandma Lillian and she thanked me for bringing back that memory.

One of the reasons I love baking is because of food's ability to create and evoke memories so strongly associated with specific places, times, and people. I feel honored that something I made that could take someone back to a beautiful moment of her childhood -- and that is something that I will always remember and cherish myself.

Recipe: "Cream Cheese Snickerdoodles" from Sweet & Southern by Ben Mims. 

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