Corn with a Side of Sumac: Pucker-Doodles

I had never used sumac before in any recipe -- either savory or sweet -- but I was game to try Rose Wilde's Pucker-Doodles from the Los Angeles Times' 2020 collection of holiday cookies. If you take a snickerdoodle, add some masa harina and chopped white chocolate, and replace the cinnamon sugar with sumac sugar, you pretty much end up with the Pucker-Doodle. 

The recipe is straightforward. You beat softened butter with sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs; incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, masa harina, salt, baking powder, and baking soda); and stir in white chocolate (I used Callebaut Gold callets). I used a #24 scoop to portion out the dough and got 34 cookies from a batch. I chilled the cookies overnight before rolling them in a mixture of sugar and sumac and baking them.
I really liked the scarlet speckles of sumac on the finished cookies. I cautiously bit into a fresh-baked cookie, mentally bracing myself for the tartness Wilde says the sumac imparts. I was surprised to discover that the sumac was quite mild and I could hardly taste it -- the cookies had just the slightest bit of tang. In fact, I thought that the defining characteristic of these cookies was the distinctive corn flavor of the masa harina. These cookies don't include cream of tartar, so they had a chewy sugar cookie texture and not the lighter texture you might expect in a classic snickerdoodle. I couldn't taste the white chocolate at all, but the recipe includes very little of it -- only two ounces total. 

While I enjoyed these cookies and appreciated the novel flavor combination, I have to say that I prefer a traditional cinnamon-sugar snickerdoodle to the pucker-doodle. But I'm glad I gave the recipe a try, because I don't want to get into a baking rut! It's always good to try and taste something totally new.
Recipe: "Pucker-Doodles" by Rose Wilde from the Los Angeles Times.