It’s Day 9 of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies Series! Everyone loves a snickerdoodle, and I love shortbread cookies, so I combined the two into these rich and buttery high altitude Snickerdoodle Shortbread Cookies. I spiced brown sugar shortbread cookie dough with cinnamon and nutmeg, and pressed the dough with cookie stamps for a gorgeous presentation. A shower of cinnamon and sugar on top is the perfect crunchy finish!
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What are Snickerdoodles?
Classic snickerdoodle cookies are a type of sugar cookie that are coated in cinnamon and sugar before baking. They’re soft, fluffy cookies that taste like butter and cinnamon, with an iconic tangy flavor from the addition of cream of tartar.
Snickerdoodles contain leaveners, in the form of baking soda and eggs, which allows them to puff up into soft and fluffy cookies. Snickerdoodle shortbread cookies are unleavened, and they also have a higher ratio of butter to flour, giving them a richer, denser, more buttery flavor and texture. If you love snickerdoodles and shortbread cookies, you’ll love this combination of the two.
See the recipe card at the end of the post for the full ingredients list and instructions.
Ingredients and Tools
- All-Purpose Flour. The flour strengthens the dough and provides structure.
- Powdered Sugar + Dark Brown Sugar. I usually use only powdered sugar in my shortbread cookie dough, but the addition of a little brown sugar adds a deeper flavor to these snickerdoodle shortbread cookies.
- Cream of Tartar. Cream of Tartar adds the iconic tangy flavor that snickerdoodles are known for.
- Coarse Kosher Salt. Balances the sweetness.
- Cinnamon + Nutmeg. In addition to cinnamon, I added freshly grated nutmeg. Feel free to leave out the nutmeg if you don’t like it.
- Unsalted Butter. Butter adds moisture and richness to shortbread cookies.
- Vanilla Extract. Use a good-quality vanilla extract for the best flavor.
- Milk. Moistens the dough, binding it together.
- Cinnamon Sugar Mixture. For sprinkling on top of the baked cookies.
- Cookie Stamps. To make my snickerdoodle shortbread cookies look extra special, I pressed them with one of the stamps from the Nordic Ware Heirloom Cookie Stamps set. All the grooves in the pattern are perfect for catching a shower of cinnamon and sugar. You can certainly make this recipe without the stamps, though.
Make the Dough.
Shortbread dough is quick and easy to make in the food processor, and I love how it evenly disperses the butter throughout the flour and sugar, before adding the liquid to bind the dough together. But if you don’t have a food processor, you can certainly make the dough using a pastry cutter and your hands.
Press with Cookie Stamps.
Divide the dough into portions and press with the cookie stamps. If you’re making this recipe without cookie stamps, then you can flatten the dough balls with your hands for a more rustic look. Or, roll out the dough and cut with any shape of cookie cutter for beautiful cut cookies.
Chill and Bake.
Chilling the stamped cookies helps to ensure that they won’t spread or lose the shape of the stamped impression while baking.
Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar.
After baking and cooling the cookies, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for the perfect sweet, spiced finish!
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High Altitude Snickerdoodle Shortbread Cookies
All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet.
- Food Processor
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (16 pieces)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk
- cinnamon-sugar for sprinkling (1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon)
- In your food processor, pulse the flour, powdered sugar, brown sugar, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg until combined.If making the dough without a food processor, whisk the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
- With the food processor running, drop the butter in a few pieces at a time, and pulse until the butter is evenly dispersed.If making the dough without a food processor, use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients by hand until very small pieces of butter remain, and the mixture resembles damp sand.
- Add the vanilla and the milk, and run the food processor just until the mixture starts to clump together into a ball of dough. Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface, and gather together any floury bits left; knead the dough 3-4 times to make sure everything is well incorporated, and the dough is smooth and supple.If making the dough without a food processor, use your hands to gather the dough together, kneading it quickly to work the moisture into the flour, until it comes together into a smooth, supple dough.
- Divide the dough into 22 equal portions. They should be as close in size as possible, so it's helpful if you have a food scale, to weigh the dough, then weigh each portion so they're uniform in size.Roll each portion between your hands to shape a ball, and lightly dust each ball of dough in flour.Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Dip a cookie stamp in flour, then tap off the excess. Center the stamp over a ball of dough, then firmly press down on the dough, until it flattens and spreads out all the way to the edge of the stamp. Carefully pull the dough off the stamp and set onto the baking sheet.Use a round cookie cutter that's slightly smaller than the cookie stamp to cut the pressed cookie and trim off the uneven edges. Save the scraps.Repeat pressing all the cookies, dipping the stamp in flour and tapping off the excess in between each.
- Gather up all the scraps from the trimmed edges, roll into a ball, dust in flour, and press two more cookies, for a total of 24 cookies.Place all the pressed cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart. Freeze the cookies on the baking sheet for 30 minutes, or refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350.Bake the chilled cookies for 10-12 minutes. To tell if the cookies are done, very carefully turn one cookie over (they're fragile while hot). If the cookie looks damp or under-baked on the bottom, then bake them for a couple more minutes.
- Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
- Make in Advance: The dough can be made in advance, wrapped well, and refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen for 3-6 months.
- Storing: Leftover cookies should be stored in an airtight container for 7-10 days, or frozen for 3-6 months.
- Cut Cookies: To make these cookies without cookie stamps, simply roll out the dough to just under 1/4 inch thick and cut with any shape cookie cutters. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the cinnamon sugar mixture and lightly press into the dough. Chill the cut cookies and bake as instructed.