Classic Snickerdoodles From A ‘Cats’ Star

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 29, 2010
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You don’t need to be a dog to know that a whole lot more cats are roaming the streets of Honolulu these days. They’re cats with a capital “C ” - the cast members of CATS, the smash-hit Broadway musical at Blaisdell Concert Hall. The show opened Tuesday night and runs until Jan. 2. It’s been called everything from “a triumphant piece of musical theater” to “a production of riveting intensity” by England’s Sunday Times.

This production of Cats also is a homecoming for one cast member with roots in the Islands. Erica Leigh Hansen, who plays Jennyanydots, spent her early childhood on Oahu.

For Hansen, whose family was based here with the military, the Honolulu production is a chance to reconnect with special memories of growing up in Hawaii. She was inspired to pursue a career on stage in sixth grade when she saw a touring production of Show Boat and made that dream come true. Her recent credits include the roles of Olive (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Cunegonde (Candide), Lily St. Regis (Annie) and Martha (The Secret Garden).

Hansen now calls Huntsville, Ala., home, but it didn’t take long for her to recall what she loves most about Hawaii.

“I love the vibrancy and laid-back nature of the culture,” she says. “I love the scenery: Nothing can compete with the beaches or the tropical settings of Hawaii.”

The CATS production also is sharing the aloha with our furry friends this holiday season. The production is partnering with Hawaiian Humane Society to raise much-needed funds to support animal welfare. According to Hansen, it all combines into a perfect recipe for a “cat” like Jennyanydots.

Snickerdoodles will make your home smell heavenly and inviting for the holidays. Make sure to use fresh butter, and if you can get Ceylon cinnamon it makes a big difference, as does organic cinnamon. It is basically a sugar cookie with a cracked top of cinnamon and sugar. The cookie is probably German or Dutch in origin, and was very popular in New England in the late 1800s. The name is attributed to many different origins, one of which is to the fanciful names New Englanders liked to give cookies.

Here’s a classic recipe with Hansen’s healthier twist.

Happy New Year!


* 1 1/2 cups Splenda or Truvia (I prefer granulated Splenda for baking!)
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (I am from the South, and we believe in using butter, but I like using organic butter, or you could use margarine as well)
* 1/2 cup shortening (sorry, there’s not really a way around this one)
* 2 eggs
* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
* 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 400º F. Mix sugar (Splenda/Truvia), butter (see note in ingredients list), shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake eight to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

For Cinnamon-Sugar Mixture:

* 1/4 cup Splenda or Truvia
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Mix together.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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