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apple cider snickerdoodles

This week we were invited to participate in a holiday cookie exchange hosted by the queen of cookies herself, Rebecca Firth from Displaced Housewife! She invited seventeen bloggers to make cookies, then secretly send them to one of the lucky names on the list—our mystery recipient will be receiving a batch of these sweet treats we are sharing today! We spent Thanksgiving in Portland with family, and when we arrived back home, a surprise package was waiting on our doorstep! Inside was a festive box tied with a silver bow and a shiny red and white striped ribbon, and a handwritten note from Laura at Tutti Dolci, revealing herself as our secret santa. Nestled within were dozens of brown butter chai snickerdoodles, carefully wrapped in wintry white paper with red snowflakes. Well it must be snickerdoodle season, or simply serendipitous synchronicity, because we made a similar selection for our sweet submission: apple cider snickerdoodles!

So what exactly is a snickerdoodle? They are almost like a sugar cookie, but are leavened with cream of tartar to make them extra light and pillowy, and rolled in a blend of cinnamon sugar before baking. To give these soft and chewy treats a tangy boost, we stirred grated granny smith apples into the dough, along with an entire pint of raw unfiltered apple cider which we simmered on the stove until it reduced to a deep amber syrup, bursting with intensely bright tart-apple flavor.

The dough is simple to prepare, and easy to make ahead! Keep it chilled in your fridge until a cookie craving strikes, and you’ll always be just 10 minutes away from warm cookies, fresh from the oven! You can even freeze the dough to keep your cookie consumption steady throughout the winter. And if your cookie cravings are in need of a further cookie fix, you will find plenty of holiday baking inspiration from the talented bloggers who participated in this collective cookie exchange. To see all the other creative cookie creations, click the links below and search #HolidayCookieParty2016 on Instagram.
Bakerita – Brown Butter Shortbreads with Dark Chocolate
The Beach House Kitchen – Double Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookies
Chez LaRae – White Rollout Cookies
Cloudy Kitchen – Anzac Biscuits
The Daley Plate – Romany Creams
Displaced Housewife – Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles
Fig & Bleu – Cornmeal & Cherry Shortbreads
Food Fashion Party – Stuffed Shortbread Cookies
The Jam Lab – Thandai Shortbread Cookies
My Kitchen Love – Chocolate Toffee Shortbread
No Crumbs Left – Peanut Butter Blossoms
Now Forager – Vanilla Bean Marshmallow & Pink Peppercorn Shortbread Cookies
Rainy Day Bites – Melody Cookies
Tutti Dolci – Brown Butter Chai Snickerdoodles
Vanilla & Bean – Cocoa Nibby Pecan Shortbread Cookies
Wife Mama Foodie – Gluten Free Icebox Cookie
Wood & Spoon – Espresso Caramel Thumbprint Cookies

Apple Cider Snickerdoodles
makes about 36 cookies

2 cups (473ml) apple cider (see note)
3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup (148g) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (160g) brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup (80g) granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and grated

For the topping:
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pour the cider into a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Let boil uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cider is reduced to just 1/4 cup of thick, amber-colored syrup, about 30 to 40 minutes. Pour the cider syrup into a heatproof cup or container, and place in the fridge until room temperature or cooler, 15 to 20 minutes.

While the cider is cooling, preheat oven to 375ºF, line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats, and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and salt until evenly blended. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar, and beat well until blended, light, and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides, add the egg and the reduced cider, and continue beating until blended. Add the grated apple and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, and stir until combined. The dough can be baked immediately, or refrigerated until ready to use.

Make the topping by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Pick up a heaping tablespoon of dough, and roll it into a 1-inch ball between your palms. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour as needed, a tablespoon or two at a time. Roll the ball of dough around in the bowl of cinnamon-sugar until it is evenly coated on all sides. Place ball on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough, leaving about 3 inches between each ball. Bake until the edges of the cookies are beginning to brown, and the center looks set, but still pale in color, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the two baking sheets halfway through to ensure even cooking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature, and enjoy!

notes:
— Apple cider refers to fresh, unfiltered, usually unpasteurized juice pressed from apples. It has much more tangy apple flavor than clear juice. It is not the same as hard cider, a carbonated alcoholic beverage made from fermented cider.
— Before starting, try pouring 1/4 of water into your saucepan, to get a visual idea of what that amount of liquid looks like. Be sure to pour the water out before adding the cider though!
— The dough can be refrigerated until ready to bake, and in fact this makes rolling out the dough easier. For longer-term storage, the dough can be frozen, just be sure to let it thaw completely in the fridge before use.
— The cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Be sure to wait until they are completely cool before storage, otherwise steam will cause the cookies to soften.