It wasn’t until I had kids that I ever heard about snickerdoodle cookies. I’m not sure why they didn’t enter my life before then (Mom, any insight here?), but I’m sure happy they did. Maybe that’s what happens when you grow up all over the world, being shuttled from country to country, city to city, school to school. I don’t know if you can relate? It was an amazing experience that I would never change for anything.
When it comes to holiday baking—like everyone—I have my favorites, like the Gluten-Free Pine Nut Cookies or the Gluten-Free Old-School Italian Jam-Filled Hazelnut Cookies. For me, this comes down to nostalgia. And, even more so, moments of nostalgia. Sometimes, when I least expect it, something triggers a memory and leads me back to a place, a time, a cookie. And, if I’m lucky, sometimes, when I’m walking down the street in what feels like slow motion, there, drifting so sweetly in the air, are my childhood memories wafting, one by one, from a local Italian bakery.
So, this holiday, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite holiday cookie memories with you. I hope you will share some of yours with me, too.
First up are these snickerdoodle cookie sandwiches. They can be sandwiched together with your favorite filling. In this recipe, I use hazelnut cream. I like the warm, comforting flavor combination of cinnamon, hazelnuts and brown sugar. But, you could use melted chocolate or lemon cream or curd. You could really enjoy them on their own, still warm from the oven.
After I mix together the dough, I use a 1½-inch ice cream scoop to form cookie mounds, which ensures a consistent baking time.
Then I dip the rounded side of each cookie into the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat and place them sugar side up and about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
While the cookies bake, I use a food processor to finely grind the hazelnuts, add in confectioners’ sugar and a little vegan butter and process until smooth. When the cookies have cooled completely, I spread half of them with about 2 teaspoons hazelnut cream and sandwich with the remaining cookies.
For ingredient substitutions, please see the detailed chart at Gluten-Free 101.
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons vegan butter, shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup blanched and peeled hazelnuts, toasted
¼ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, cream 1 stick butter, brown sugar and ¼ cup granulated sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture at low speed.
- In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Using a 1½-inch scoop, form 12 mounds. Dip the rounded side of each mound into the sugar mixture to coat, then place sugar side up and 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the cookies until golden at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for about 2 minutes, then, using a spatula, transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- Meanwhile, using a food processor, finely grind the hazelnuts. Add the confectioners' sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening; process until smooth. Spread 6 cookies with about 2 teaspoons hazelnut cream each and sandwich with the remaining 6 cookies.