I love all sorts of cookies, but I’ve never been very drawn to snickerdoodles.  I’m not sure why, given the cinnamon sugar coating is something I just LOVE on other things (like these muffins).  I suppose maybe it is because when I see them in a dessert case up against a giant chocolate chip cookie, a cookie full of M&Ms (my favorite candy), or some triple-super-duper-chocolatey concoction, they just seem sort of plain.  Well, that perception has now been set straight in my mind.  I *love* these snickerdoodles.  I baked them last week for Ben’s parent night as I mentioned before, and they looked and smelled so amazing that I was pretty upset about having to send them all off to school with him.  Thankfully, one of the cookies decided to mysteriously spread out into a bizarre and unattractive cookie, so I kept that one for us to sample.  It tasted phenomenal – and that was the bad one!  I will definitely make another batch very soon so I can enjoy at least two (or maybe more! ;) )  

Normally almost any time a recipe calls for shortening, I inevitably substitute with butter, but the text before the recipe in the cookbook discusses the fact that the shortening is important in this recipe to help the cookies retain their shape and not spread too much (maybe the one I ate was mostly butter?)  Another thing to note is that usually, I bake two sheets of cookies at the same time and rotate them 180 degrees and from upper to lower oven racks halfway through the baking time.  With these cookies I noticed that I preferred the shape, coloration, etc. of the cookies that were on the bottom shelf of the oven to start out and finished on the top shelf.  It made enough of a difference between batches that I think next time I make these, I will bake one sheet per cycle and start each sheet out on the bottom rack. 

Yield: about 30 cookies

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar, plus 3 tbsp. for rolling dough
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon, for rolling dough

Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until well combined, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat again until combined, about 30 seconds.  Add in the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 20 seconds.  

In a small, shallow bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon for rolling the dough.  Stir or shake well to combine.  Working with a heaping tablespoon of dough each time, roll the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls.  Roll the balls in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Use a drinking glass with a flat bottom to gently flatten the dough balls to 3/4-inch thickness (butter the bottom of the glass before starting, and dip it in sugar between cookies if it begins to stick).  

Bake until the edges of the cookies are beginning to set and the center are soft and puffy, 9-11 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets 2-3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Source: adapted from Baking Illustrated