Day 339–Cinnamon and Snickerdoodles

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3 of our Snickerdoodles arranged in the shape of a Mickey Mouse head!

Did you know that cinnamon is a super food? Not only does cinnamon help decrease cholesterol levels, it also helps your body regulate its insulin production, which is weird since it pairs so well with sugar ūüôā We eat cinnamon on toast, over oatmeal, in curry sauce and on baked fruit. We are also in the throes of the holiday baking season, and even though cookies are not health food, we eat cinnamon on cookies. Here is my thinking:

If you’re going to eat a cookie, eat a homemade cookie. And eat it with cinnamon.

One of my favorite cookies is the snickerdoodle. I had never even heard of snickerdoodles until I was living in Nashville and working right across from a bakery. Oh. My. I had always been a purist chocolate chip girl, but something about the combination of butter and cinnamon spoke to me. I think if Santa had a favorite cookie, this would be it. Enough spice to be interesting, but close enough to a sugar cookie to be comforting. I think the reindeer would like them, too.

So, in the midst of what is turning out to be a very busy holiday season, Ellie and I took some mother/daughter time to bake cookies, and we made sure to have some snickerdoodles. In true holiday spirit, we shared them with our neighbors and friends to spread the joy. And the cinnamon.

Snickerdoodles

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached organic flour
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 c. sugar and the ground cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, cream of tartar, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low or stir to combine. Your dough will be a bit stiff.
  7. Roll scoops of dough into balls the size of a walnut (I use a mini ice cream scoop for this–works great!).
  8. Place each dough ball into the cinnamon sugar and roll around until coated. Place dough on an ungreased cookie sheet about 2″ apart.
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool 2 minutes.
  10. Using a spatula, remove cookies from cookie sheet to a cooling rack. Cool completely, if you can stand to leave them that long!

Day 81–Cracking the Cookie Code

Chocolate chip cookie dough.

Ok, I had mixed emotions about the two-month-long cookie sale for our Girl Scout troop. I don’t¬†love the idea of young people out peddling highly processed, sugary¬†food when we already struggle with getting them to eat healthy. But, in the spirit of tradition (and out of fear of the Girl Scout Council), I pushed ahead, stayed positive, kept my issues¬†to myself¬†and we all survived. We counted cookies, set up booths, counted some more, hit up our neighbors, collected money, counted some more and then…we were done! No. More. Cookies!

Then, I received an email from¬†Ellie’s middle school¬†band director. The band’s booster club had chosen a fundraiser to purchase some badly needed¬†equipment and defray¬†the cost for the steel drum band to perform at Disney World. This fundraiser…is…wait for it…selling tubs of raw cookie dough. AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH. Are you kidding me?

First, let me say that I am a huge supporter of PTA’s and school arts programs, especially band programs–how cool is it that we even have a middle school steel drum band? And I am a big fan of our school’s band director–he is amazing and,¬†for patiently teaching all those hormonally charged young people, he probably deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. I contacted the band director immediately and explained our dilemma. Did I say how awesome he is? He is awesome. I suggested that instead of purchasing a vat of cookie dough, we make a family donation to the band boosters to cover the proceeds of what we might have sold. No problem.

Except there is a problem. And¬†that problem is called “sales incentives”. Or as the folks at Entertainment Fundraising call it: the “Extreme Fundraising Prize Pool”. The dazzling array of cheaply produced, made-in-a-sweat-shop goods had Ellie smitten. And, there is some social peer pressure involved. Those of you without children, do not judge. It’s unfathomable the frenzy these cheap prizes cause within a school. So, after a great deal of discussion, we decided to find out what is in the cookie dough, and if it didn’t seem too terrible, we would see if our neighbors wanted any. If there were unpronounceable ingredients or big health issues, we would pass. No problem.

Except there¬†was another problem. And that problem is called “we’re not going to tell you what is in our cookie dough”. Or, as the folks at Entertainment Fundraising call it: “Secret Ingredients”.

After a fruitless online search to find ingredient lists, I called Entertainment Fundraising to see if they could email me a list of ingredients in their cookie dough. In this day of food allergies, that didn’t seem like a crazy request. I spoke with “Charles” about this at length. Our conversation went something like this:

C:   This is Charles at Entertainment Fundraising!!!! How can I help you!!!!

Me: Hi Charles, our school band is selling your tubs of cookie dough this spring…

C:  Great!!! The cookie dough is super!!!

Me:¬† Yes, well, I’m looking for a list of the ingredients in the different doughs, but I can’t find one online. Can you help me with this?

C:¬†¬† Oh (no more exclamation points).¬†No, we can’t give you the list of ingredients.

Me:  Um, ok, why is that?

C:   We cannot communicate with anyone except the fundraiser chairperson.

Me: Um, ok, why is that?

C:  They have the special code to download information from the website.

Me: Does this information include ingredients?

C:  Probably.

Me: But you can’t send it to me?

C:  No.

Me: And why is that?

C: Your fundraising chairperson has the special code.

Me: Hmm, well that seems odd, Charles, but I’ll try to get in touch with our fundraising chairperson…

C: Ok, great!!!! And thank YOU for supporting the children!!!

Me: Whatevs.

I thought for sure, I would never see an ingredient list. Then, this morning I received several pdf files from the band director in my email (because he is awesome). Ingredients lists! Overall, the cookie doughs use a lot of partially hydrogenated oils (which by their nature include trans fats), several different kinds of sugar including fructose and some of the cookies include parabens. Being raw cookie dough, they also include preservatives, which is not a huge surprise. I showed the list to some folks I work with and they all agreed that 1) a vat of cookie dough is, in principle, gross and 2) they were not interested in foods with such a high level of fat.

In the end, this has spurred a lot of thinking about how we talk the talk of health with our children, but we really don’t put that into practice when it counts. We tell them to make good choices, then send them out to sell poor choices to other people. As a result of all this, I have made an offer to the PTA to start a Wellness Committee of teachers, parents and students at the school, but haven’t heard back.

But for reals now, I am done with cookies…