Less chatter, more cookies. Let's get to it. This cookie came together organically and fast. This is a riff on John's grandmother's snickerdoodle recipe, a reliable crowd pleaser that for some odd reason I only make during the holidays. I received a shipment from Penzey's right before Thanksgiving containing Chinese five-spice powder. I know you can make this on your own (Penzey's has cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, cloves and ginger), but the heady aroma coming from that jar was better than any combo I've tried to put together on my own.
I also ordered nutmeg and rediscovered my nutmeg grinder, which had become lost in the drawer. My son Desmond has become obsessed with egg nog and nutmeg, reminding me yet again that threads of my mom passed over onto him after she herself passed. (That woman LOVED egg nog and rocked the best spiked nog every Christmas. No doubt.) So I just threw this altogether. I made a crucial change in the amount of fat. The original recipe called for a cup of shortening, so not only did I cut back on the total fat, I redistributed it between butter and Earth Balance shortening (Crisco is far too greasy). I also slightly reduced the amount of sugar, and added vanilla extract where there was none, to balance the spice notes.
Chinese Five-Spice (plus nutmeg!) Snickerdoodles
- 1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, room temperature
- 5 T. shortening
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. Chinese five-spice
- 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat, or grease them.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the shortening, butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar at medium speed until it's fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and combine.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Add the flour to the butter-sugar combo, mixing on low speed just until the flour has been absorbed into the batter.
- Combine the 1/4 cup sugar with the spices in a small bowl. Scoop out teaspoon-sized balls of dough and roll them lightly between the palms of your hands. Drop them into the bowl of spices and sugar to coat and load them up onto the cookie sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Note: I fit a dozen apiece on two cookie sheets, baked them together, and then repeated the whole process a second time.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until they're starting to brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: About 4 dozen