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Dharma Kitchen


Pillowy Chai Cookies

Carrie H

So many things are born of accidents. This cookie is one of them and for that, I am grateful. 

See, this started as an attempt to make another batch of snickerdoodles, but I discovered I only had 1/2 tsp. of cream of tartar left. It is a key leavening agent for snickerdoodles, and not something you can easily substitute with some other clever combo of baking soda and/or baking powder. Cream of tartar is tartaric acid and a byproduct, actually, of winemaking. (Cooking Light says you can use lemon juice to sub, but I've never actually tried it. I trust them, however.)  The other key ingredient? Shortening. I don't use Crisco because I find it to be too greasy, but my closest supermarket doesn't seem to stock Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks (a.k.a. high-grade shortening), in stick form. I typically opt for a combination of the vegan sticks and straight up butter to create the optimal texture along with the cream of tartar.

Sparkles! Pillowy chai cookies. 

Sparkles! Pillowy chai cookies. 


In any case, it's all too little too late. I was already on my way toward a new, softer cookie. We had plans to visit friends and said friend loves snickerdoodles (the more you say it, the sillier it sounds, right?), so I had to represent. 

Instead, what resulted from this recipe is a pillowy soft spiced cookie, definitely snickerdoodle in inspiration if not execution. I used a blend of chai spices from Indian as Apple Pie but feel free to put together your own combination of coriander, cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, fennel and so forth.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 1 T. chai blend or combination of chai spices (see headnote above), plus 1 tsp. more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup granulated or sparkling sugar for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease or line two baking sheets with parchment or Silpat.

Whisk to combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, and set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, coconut oil and sugar on medium speed for about two minutes until it lightens in color. Add the egg, beat to combine, scraping down the sides as necessary, and then add the vanilla and combine. 

Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter on low speed so you don't have flour all over the place. Once it's incorporated, roll the flour into walnut-sized balls and then roll them in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and teaspoon of chai spice blend.

Space them a couple inches apart on your baking sheets and bake for about 8-10 minutes. They will puff up and get slightly crinkly but won't spread out quite as much as regular ole' snickerdoodles do. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Yield: About 2 1/2 dozen. 

Pillowy chai cookies. Sort of like snickerdoodles, but different. 

Pillowy chai cookies. Sort of like snickerdoodles, but different.