My mother has baked these cookies every Christmas for as long as I can remember. Honestly, the name is slightly embarrassing to say out loud. It’s an old-time American recipe probably with origins in the Amish community, where whoopie pies were invented. In American baking we have something called a sugar cookie, which is basically a plain cookie usually rolled in sugar before baking. These are similar, with cinnamon added to the coating and extra cream of tartar added for their uniquely tart flavour. Baking these now with my daughter, Frances, in London, brings back so many lovely memories of my parents’ Californian kitchen.
Makes 15 large cookies
unsalted butter 250g, softened
caster sugar 300g
plain flour 320g
cream of tartar 2 tsp
bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp
salt ½ tsp
ground cinnamon 1 tbsp
granulated sugar 2 tbsp
Line a small baking sheet or container (one that will fit inside your freezer) with baking parchment.
Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined but not too creamy – you are not aiming for light and fluffy here. Add the eggs and mix well.
In another bowl combine the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and whisk together well. Add this to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
Scoop individual portions (about the size of a golf ball) of cookie dough onto the lined baking sheet or container. Roll each portion into a ball. Cover with clingfilm and freeze for at least 1 hour, or up to a month.
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and roll the balls in the mixture. Arrange the cookies evenly on the sheet, leaving enough space between them so they have room to expand during baking (when they will almost double in size).
The cookies are best the day or day after they are baked, so it’s best to bake them off when you need them. Bake for 12 minutes, until the centre of each cookie is still slightly soft, but the edges are crispy and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before serving.