Vanilla Chai Snickerdoodles
My love affair with chai tea started in high school. I wasn't a big coffee drinker until after college. So instead of feeling left out when all my friends would get their Starbucks Mocha Frappuccinos (which, at 16, was the most coffee they could handle), I decided to make the Chai Creme Frap my drink of choice.
As I've gotten older, I have maintained my love for chai. I just swap my overly sweetened, calorie dense Frappuccino for a warm cup of honey-sweetened tea. My favorite is Rooibos Chai, which is naturally a bit sweet and has a warm vanilla flavor. The rooibos chai is also not quite so spicy as some chais tend to be. Cinnamon isthe dominant flavor, but its balanced nicely by the citrusy cardamom and spicy ginger.
Which is why I have always maintained that chai can be a wonderful baking spice! And it perfectly translates to the snickerdoodle cookie! Sure, a plain old cinnamon-sugar snickerdoodles are great. But I think adding in a couple more spices could only make it better.
The spice mixture I use is a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, all spice, and vanilla bean. Because I ended up making these cookies for my cookie swap, I toned down the cardamom (which is pretty prominant in chai tea) just in case not everyone had the same appreciation for chai tea as I do. But if you like chai tea, then follow the exact recipe below. If not, you can adjust the spices as necessary.
To make the cookies, I portioned out about tablespoon size portion of cookie dough using my favorite cookie scooper. Then I rolled them into balls and into the sugar-spice mixture so that they were thoroughly covered.
These cookies do spread out and puff up, so I placed the cookies on the baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart. If you like your snickerdoodles a little flatter and not so puffy, you could use a fork to press them down (like I did in the original recipe). But I kinda like them to be nice and puffy.
I did some experimenting on the perfect baking temperature. The first batch was baked at 350 degrees and while the spread out a lot, then didn't really get that signature snickerdoodle crack. I tried 400 degrees next (which is the temperature most snickerdoodle recipes call for), and the cookies cracked, but didn't really spread out. They also seemed to be a bit crunchier.
The last batch was baked at 375 degrees, which seemed to offer the best of both temperatures. They cookies spread out a bit, but they also cracked and weren't overly dried out.
While these cookies (like most cookies) are best straight out of the oven, they actually keep for quite a while. I had a couple cookies left over even a week after the cookie swap, and while they weren't as soft, they were still delicious!
And of course these cookies are the perfect pair for a nice warm cup of chai tea! The flavor is relatively subtle, which makes these cookies great for anyone. But they will be especially well received by my fellow tea-drinkers.
Vanilla Chai Snickerdoodles
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 18-24 cookies
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cardamom
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- beans from 1 vanilla pod (optional)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the spice mixture ingredients until the vanilla bean is incorporated throughout and not clumped together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the egg and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Slowly mix into the butter-sugar mixture until all the flour has just been incorporated. Don't over mix.
- Scoop about 1-2 tbsp of dough onto a baking sheet. Roll the dough in the palms of your hands into a round ball. Then roll the dough ball in the sugar-spice mixture until completely covered. Place the dough back on the baking sheet, 1-2 inches apart.
- Bake at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.