A Rum Cookie Even a Teetotaler Can Love: Eggnog Snickerdoodles

My husband and I have hosted a large holiday party at our house every year since we moved in more than a decade ago -- but of course COVID-19 forced us to skip it this year. We haven't even dined indoors (other than in our own home) since last March, so we weren't about to host a superspreader event. But I decided to still bake and distribute holiday cookies. Our party guests are always invited to pack up a box of baked goods to take home with them when they leave (a tradition I started after I noticed a colleague wrapping up some cookies in a napkin and stuffing them in her purse during our very first party), and I figured that this year people might be willing to come by for a contactless cookie box pickup.

I offered six different dates for people to pick up cookies during the weeks of Christmas and New Year's. I did this both because I know people are busy over the holidays and might not be able to come by on any particular day, and also because I was taking the entire last two weeks of December off from work and didn't have much else to do besides bake. I was burning up some "use or lose" vacation time that I would forfeit if I didn't take time off by the end of the year, but we had no plans to travel or visit family during the pandemic. 

The first cookie I decided to make was Vaughn Vreeland's Eggnog Snickerdoodles. While I don't drink alcohol and strongly dislike boozy desserts, I usually have a few desserts with alcohol at our holiday party -- because after all, I'm not baking for myself, but for our guests. And these cookies aren't actually made with rum, but with rum extract -- which I honestly did not even know was a thing before I saw it in the ingredient list. I was able to find it easily at the supermarket, and I was surprised that when I opened the bottle and took a sniff, I thought it smelled sweet and pleasant.
The recipe is straightforward. You cream room temperature butter with sugar and salt until light and fluffy; add an egg and egg yolks, followed by rum extract; and add the dry ingredients (flour, cream of tartar, and baking soda). You let the dough sit at room temperature briefly before forming it into balls (I used a #30 scoop and got 28 cookies from a batch), rolling each cookie in a mixture of sugar and freshly-grated nutmeg, and baking.
Even though the headnote describes these cookies as "pillowy," I thought they looked a little too puffy when I took them out of the oven, so I banged the pan on the oven rack once to deflate them. I was very pleased with the results. And I was so surprised that I absolutely loved this cookie. From a technical standpoint, it had a perfect snickerdoodle texture -- delicately crisp outside, and light inside. But I also absolutely loved the eggnog flavor, including the sweet rum extract and the light dusting of nutmeg. This was so unexpected, because I absolutely hate the flavor of actual rum. And this cookie appeared to have universal appeal, because several friends who picked up cookies sent me pictures of their children eating and enjoying them.

I liked these cookies so much that I made several batches during my cookie vacation, and I think that almost everyone who picked up holiday cookies received them in their box. I can't believe I found a rum-flavored dessert that I love!

Recipe: "Eggnog Snickerdoodles" by Vaughn Vreeland, from The New York Times.