It’s time to be baking Holiday cookies! For some reason, I usually start the holiday baking jag with these Swedish Cinnamon Cookies. They are simple to make, and while not fancy, are the best-tasting cinnamon cookie I have ever had. They look a lot like snickerdoodles, but have much more intense cinnamon and butter flavors.
There are two ingredients that I think are crucial for the best result: non-aluminum baking powder (such as Rumford) and Vietnamese Cinnamon. Some of us are “tasters” of the bitter metallic note that ordinary baking powders with sodium aluminum sulfate give to baked goods. Years ago, I learned from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible about the difference among baking powders. I made the switch to non-aluminum baking powder and was shocked to find how much better cakes, cookies and quick breads taste—more purity of flavor from the butter, sugar and spices. Many other cookbooks also make this recommendation, and one very good discussion of the merits of non-aluminum baking powder is on David Lebovitz’s wonderful food blog. Non-aluminum baking powder costs only slightly more than the other stuff, and is well worth it. Also make sure that your baking powder is reasonably fresh (there is usually an expiration date on the can).
Vietnamese cinnamon (or Saigon cinnamon) has a rich aroma and more intense flavor than other cinnamons. For these cookies, where cinnamon is the star, Vietnamese cinnamon really adds to the “wow” factor. I like the Vietnamese cinnamon from Penzeys.
With these ingredients in hand, you are ready to make these cookies. My recipe is on a handwritten card and I do not remember the recipe source–perhaps the December issue of a cooking magazine in the 1980’s?
Swedish Cinnamon Cookies
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (such as Rumford)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cinnamon)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon (preferably Vietnamese cinnamon)
1 Tablespoon sugar
Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar. I use a hand-held electric mixer for this. Mix in the egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients, then add to the butter mixture and mix together. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a couple of baking sheets. Stir together the cinnamon and sugar in a small shallow bowl to make the cinnamon sugar.
Roll the chilled dough into walnut-sized balls. Roll them in the cinnamon sugar, then place them on the prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart (cookies will spread during baking). Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden. Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store the cooled cookies in an airtight container.