September 27, 2012

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles

by IsaChandra

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Chai Spice Snickerdoodles
Photo by Vanessa Rees

Of course cookies are always fun to eat, but their crunchy, sugary tops make snickerdoodles even more so. Maybe I should work for the snickerdoodle industry? Since the Mexican Hot Chocolate ones were such a hit, I’ve been experimenting with different varieties for my next cookbook, and these are a favorite; an enticing spin on classic cinnamon snickerdoodles, livened up with chai spices: ginger, cardamom and a hint of cloves. It’s the perfect cookie to welcome in Autumn!

Over the summer I spent a few weeks in Brooklyn shooting dozens of photos for the book, with faboo photographer Vanessa Rees and my buddy Terry, plus an assortment of other helpers (so many dishes!) It was a great time, spilling fabrics all over the floor to get the exact right napkin, arranging sprigs of cilantro just so, and wrapping noodles around forks. So I wanna’ share a little bit of the process here. This video tracks the life of a food photo; from picking out the background, to the lighting, to props, there is so much that goes into each shot before it gets to the page. Here you can see that we tried several different arrangements (Should the cookies be on the baking sheet? Parchment? Maybe a plate? With tea?) before settling on the final composition.

I can’t wait to return to Brooklyn this winter for round 2. But for now…cookies!

Recipe Notes

~ Since we’re not weighing the flour, the consistency of dough can vary. If your dough seems excessively sticky (like, it’s difficult to roll into balls that hold their shape and it’s sticking to your hands), then an extra tablespoon of flour or two gently kneaded into the batter oughtta’ fix it.

~ If you are the type to make cookies on a weekly (daily?) basis, it might be worth it to invest in a cookie disher. It’s basically a smaller ice cream scoop, but it ensures that the cookies come out uniformly sized.

~ For a lower fat cookie, replace 1/4 cup of the oil with 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce. The cookie will come out a bit softer and puffier, but still amazingly delish!

For the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch cloves

For the cookies:
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons non-dairy milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix the topping ingredients together on a dinner plate. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together oil, sugar, syrup, and milk. Mix for at least a minute, until it resembles applesauce. Then mix in vanilla.

Sift in remaining ingredients, stirring as you add them. Once all ingredients are added mix until you’ve got a pliable dough. Get in there with your hands to mix, it’s the easiest way to get the dough to come together.

With clean, moist hands, roll dough into walnut sized balls. Pat into the sugar topping to flatten into roughly 2 inch discs. Transfer to baking sheet, sugar side up, at least 2 inches apart (they do spread a little). This should be easy as the the bottom of the cookies should just stick to your fingers so you can just flip them over onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, they should be a bit browned on the bottoms. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.



  • September 27, 2012 at 4:28 pm: danie

    things i have been waiting for: this.

  • September 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm: Maureen

    I’m making these as soon as I get home from work. I’m so inappropriately excited!

  • September 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm: Jenn

    My boyfriend introduced me to chai tea lattes and Ive been obsessed with the taste ever since. Cant wait to make these for us and maybe a nice batch of lattes to boot. I might subsitute the cardamom with nutmeg since i dont have any…but who knows…maybe I’l splurge and buy a new spice for such a potentially addicting cookie.

  • September 27, 2012 at 4:47 pm: Kelly Bragg

    An over-used phrase, but OMG! I love ANYTHING chai, so I CAN NOT WAIT TO MAKE THESE COOKIES! Thank you so much!

  • September 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm: missbear

    Chai whores of the world unite!!! I am SUCH a tart for chai these biscuits are making me feel a little too excited :)

  • September 27, 2012 at 5:03 pm: Joei

    Can I engage in a marriage or civil union with a dessert? If so, yes, please.

  • September 27, 2012 at 5:17 pm: rachel

    I know what I will be taking to the hayride this year! Thanks Isa

  • September 27, 2012 at 5:18 pm: Kristy

    Yes! My husband loves chai everything and my stepson is a snickerdoodle fanatic- these are going to be a huge hit in our house!

  • September 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm: adam & Theresa

    nice recipe, but especially nice to see how the arrangement took shape. I think i really fall short with my artistic side for our food-photos’. Better if it’s dessert, but if it’s a main that we’re eating then, forget it, I’m just way too impatient. Must think more and get creative in that department. Thanks.

  • September 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm: Heidi

    This is the perfect recipe for my college vegan co-op!! I am the designated “tasty things” maker for the semester, and we have to adhere to certain food policies, including no saturated fats (i.e. margarine), and no processed sugar, so the fact that this doesn’t call for either, using instead canola oil and maple syrup (our primary sweetener) delights me!! I can’t wait to make 8 dozen of these for all my co-op buddies!

  • September 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm: Amanda

    Oh my goodness. Don’t mind if I do!

  • September 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm: Hannah Jean

    Yummm! I have seen a lot of great fall recipe’s lately. But, chai snickerdoodles?? I need to make this immediately. Such a great recipe!

  • September 27, 2012 at 7:49 pm: Delores

    What is non dairy milk?

  • September 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm: missbear

    Hi Delores, try something like Soy Or Rice or Almond milk.

  • September 27, 2012 at 10:57 pm: stacey s

    @Jenn: If you sub nutmeg for cardamom it’ll taste a lot like pumpkin pie. Also a good idea.

  • September 27, 2012 at 11:17 pm: Angela

    I could watch videos like this all day long. Is that weird? hah. Love it.
    The cookies sound & look amazing as always!

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:16 am: Mary

    These look awesome!

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:18 am: ricky

    Just made these and they’re yummy! I didn’t have any cardamom so I just added a little extra ginger and cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Now, I can cook dinner!

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:19 am: candace

    Yes please! I need more cardamom in my life. Making these tonight!

  • September 28, 2012 at 12:46 am: luv what you do

    I’m a huge fan of Chai…what a great addition to snickerdoodles!

  • September 28, 2012 at 1:58 am: candace

    And, they are amazing :) I somehow ended up with 3 dozen, but I’m not complaining.

    • September 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm: IsaChandra

      Weird! Cookies are a mystery.

  • September 28, 2012 at 4:47 am: Miss Lynx

    These look great! Although I suspect I will reduce the sugar – I usually end up doing that with your dessert recipes (and most other dessert recipes, for that matter) because I like things a little less sweet.

    BTW, my favourite snickerdoodle variation is a chocolate ginger one, which is based on your Mexican hot chocolate ones: instead of cinnamon and cayenne, I add 1/2 teaspoon ginger – and then after mixing everything else together, i fold in half a cup of chopped candied ginger. (Note that you really do need to reduce the sugar if you do it that way, because you’re adding a bunch more with the candied ginger!) SO GOOD.

    • September 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm: IsaChandra

      Yes, you can totally get away with reducing the sugar here, especially because they tops are dipped in sugar. I bet even 1/2 cup would be kosher.

  • September 28, 2012 at 11:21 am: jade taylor

    Wow! ISA, do you think I could sub the sugar and maple for agave syrup and apple sauce? I am trying to avoid sugar at the mo as am goin thru a hard time and it sets me off crazy! These look amazing and I don’t wanna miss out! What a fab idea to use chai spices in food. Genius.

    • September 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm: IsaChandra

      Well, the tops are dipped in sugar. What about something like sucanat? Agave will make things pretty cakey.

  • September 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm: Sara D.

    Made these last night and they’re delicious! I brought them to work and everybody agrees with me.

    • September 28, 2012 at 3:30 pm: IsaChandra

      That was fast! Glad you liked them.

  • September 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm: KZCakes

    I’m so happy to see you finally posting a gain, I’ve missed you! Def making these cookies tonight, also wondering if you’re doing vegan mofo? Its my first year doing it, so im super excited!

  • September 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm: Sheila

    Cookies are awesome.Cardamom freak that I am, I added some to the batter (in addition to the cinnamon).
    If you really like cardamom, too, buy the green pods and shell/grind them yourself. It’s quite labor-intensive, but once ground, cardamom loses its flavor very quickly. I try to use mine within a week.

  • September 28, 2012 at 10:13 pm: Patricia Sjöberg

    These are definitely going to get made at our house. My son LOVES snickerdoodle cookies!

  • September 28, 2012 at 10:38 pm: katy sparrow

    byooo-tiful photo composition!

  • September 29, 2012 at 1:48 am: Maria

    I don’t know what I did! These were impossible to get off my hands! I tried adding more flour, but it was a total mess. Does anyone have any idea what I could have done?

    • September 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm: IsaChandra

      I’m going to change the recipe to 3 tablespoons milk, so hopefully that takes care of it! It’s weird, because in testing, the cookies were to dry for some, so I changed it, but 3 tbs is what works for me. If for some reason they are still too wet, a Tbs or 2 of flour should take care of it. Better wet batter then dry!

  • September 29, 2012 at 2:43 am: Lydia

    I am a huge fan of your books and, particularly, the sister cookies to this new creation-the Mexican chocolate snicker doodle. These chai ones are in my oven now…3 minutes to go.

  • September 29, 2012 at 1:13 pm: Amy

    I made these for my three teenagers yesterday and they all loved them – and now the oldest one wants to bake them himself. I was so tickled! Thank you!

  • September 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm: Allison

    I was so excited to see these and couldn’t wait to give them a try. But the dough never quite got there for me and the end result was a little disappointing. I kept adding little scoops of extra flour, hoping to get it to resemble the Mex Hot Choc ones that I **LOVE** but alas that never happened and I still don’t know why it never really firmed up… Did anyone else encounter this problem?

  • September 29, 2012 at 3:42 pm: Kelly

    I made these with 1/4 oil and no applesauce, but the milk remained at 1/4c. The dough was easy to handle with a scooper, but at 12 minutes they were underbaked out of my oven. Tasty nevertheless.

  • September 30, 2012 at 5:03 am: Kira

    holy snicker doodle. these are amazing!!! they come out perfectly chewy and spicy with this yummy caramel-like center