The first cooking classes I taught in Bemidji took place in a cozy coffee shop housed in an old, refurbished building downtown. As soon as the last cup of coffee had been served for the day and the closed sign hung on the door, I would slide the cash register off the counter to make way for the two electric burners I stored in the back room. There was no stove in this coffee shop.
The small, heavy tables would get pushed around on the wood floor until they were arranged just right, giving my students plenty of room to move around as they worked together in the participation cooking classes.
I’d preheat the oven, sharpen my Wusthof knives and set out mixing bowls and plenty of kitchen tools. Then, I’d wait for 8 to 10 eager students to arrive. Mostly women would come for an evening of cooking, learning, eating and socializing. Every once in a while, a guy would show up in class.
One of those food-loving guys was DeeJay. He became a regular in the cooking classes and we became friends. This guy can cook. He’s an expert at creating appetizers that look too beautiful to eat. But you just can’t hold back. Each bite brings a sigh of satisfaction.
His cooking classmates and I almost cried when he told us his partner, Steve, was stuck on cottage cheese. As much as DeeJay cooked, Steve would eat only cottage cheese.
Times have changed. That was years ago. Steve has not only expanded the list of foods he enjoys, he actually bakes muffins. Recently, DeeJay told me about the wonderful Snickerdoodle Muffins Steve makes. Steve shared his recipe with me and gave me permission to share it with you.
The muffin batter is not at all complicated to mix together — cream the butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla, sift the dry ingredients and add them alternately with buttermilk and sour cream. Easy.
Here’s where ordinary stops and unique begins. Scoops of batter are plopped into a bowl of cinnamon-sugar. When the plop is entirely coated with the sweet, spicy mixture, it goes into a paper-lined muffin tin.
As the muffins bake, the tops crack just as snickerdoodle cookies do as they spread out on a baking sheet in a hot oven.
Steve’s Snickerdoodle Muffins will melt in your mouth, whether you eat them while they are still warm from the oven when the kitchen is fragrant with cinnamon, or wait until the next day. The warm aroma of cinnamon was still in my kitchen the next morning when I padded out of my bedroom in search of a Snickerdoodle Muffin.
Steve said he thinks the sour cream and cream of tartar add a wonderful taste. He always uses buttermilk instead of whole milk because the three ingredients seem to work well together.
What Steve finds most difficult about his recipe is making even-sized scoops of batter and rolling them in the cinnamon-sugar. He said it’s a messy job, but it’s worth it.
The coffee shop has new owners now. It no longer becomes my cooking school in the evenings. I still enjoy the friendships that started over a mixing bowl or a chopping board.
In the same fashion many recipes are passed from one cook or baker to another, I pass Snickerdoodle Muffins on to you from Steve and DeeJay. (I still find it hard to believe there is not a bit of cottage cheese in the list of ingredients for these heavenly muffins!)
Steve’s Snickerdoodle Muffins
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (or whole milk)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners. Cooking spray doesn’t work.
Prepare Topping by combining 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon in a large cereal bowl. Set aside.
With electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until mixture is fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat into the butter mixture.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt together. Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the butter mixture in mixing bowl and beat at low speed just until combined. Add sour cream and buttermilk and beat at low speed to blend. Add remainder of dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until all dry ingredients have been incorporated into the mixture.
Using a cookie dough scoop (I used my Pampered Chef ice cream dipper), plop a scoop of batter into the bowl of cinnamon and sugar and roll until coated. Put the coated batter ball into a muffin liner. Sprinkle leftover cinnamon-sugar evenly over all of the unbaked muffins.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until muffins spring back when lightly touched with a finger on the top. Makes about 18 muffins.