Amy M.'s Snickerdoodles and Spritz Cookies

Our latest Chow Bella showdown: a traditional holiday cookie exchange. From now through Christmas, we present Chow Bella's 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. Today we bring you two recipes: Amy Morris' Snickerdoodles and Spritz cookies.

Snickerdoodles! Fun to say, and delicious. These are my husband's favorite and if you mention "cookie" in our house, you better have a batch ready to go. My mother always made these cookies at the holidays and I would have so much fun getting my hands gritty in the cinnamon sugar. Cleaning me up afterwards probably made her double-think her choice of cookie selections every year.

I've always thought of a snickerdoodle as the adventurous sugar cookie. The crispy, cracked surface is created by the cinnamon sugar you roll the cookies in before they are baked. A good snickerdoodle may be crispy on the outside, but should be chewy inside. Other key ingredients for the success of these cookies: butter, shortening and cream of tartar.

Get the recipe Amy used after the jump.  

Snickerdoodles (recipe from America's Test Kitchen)
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine a ¼ cup of the sugar and the cinnamon in a shallow dish for coating and set aside. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside

Beat the butter, shortening, and remaining 1 ½ cups sugar together in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is combined.

Using wet hands, roll 2 tablespoons of dough at a time into balls, then roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat and lay on two parchment-lined baking sheets, spaced about 2 ½ inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and just beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Spritz cookies (recipe from Wilton)

Spritz cookies, also known as Swedish butter cookies, have been gracing Christmas tables for a long time. This is my mother's favorite cookie and after many years I've come to cherish them as well.  

The secret to these beautiful cookies is that the dough is squeezed through a cookie press. These presses generally come with a variety of shapes to choose from--which give them their signature appearance, and they are typically adorned with sprinkles or colored sugar. They are also wonderful frosted.

Another secret to this cookie recipe: helpers. In my case, my kitchen came supplied with a husband who asked if he could help--and I'm not sure if he'll volunteer again. Note: This recipe will make at least 7 dozen. (Which may be why my husband may not volunteer again.)

Classic Spritz Cookies
1 ½ cups butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375°F. Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almond extract; beat well. Stir together flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough. Do not chill. Place dough into cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Remove cookies from sheet; cool on rack.

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Amy Morris