Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies


These simple sugar cookies with frosting, a staple in my family, include a secret ingredient to make the perfect cookie.

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Frosting

 

The holiday season is upon us, and for me that means it’s time to bake my Grandma’s sugar cookies and decorate them with colorful frosting. In the family cookbook, the recipe is titled Chanukah Cookies, but don’t let that name pigeonhole the recipe. These simple sugar cookies have a special ingredient that makes them extra soft and, of course, can be cut out in any shape you desire for the occasion.

 

I could spot one of Grandma’s cookies from a mile away. The first trait I notice is the pastel frosting decorating each shape. Candles on the menorah shine with a pale yellow glow and dreidels dance with pink and light blue embellishments. This is an easy detail to remember, because my cousins and I were always involved with helping to decorate the cookies when we were young. Three or four at a time, we would toe up to the kitchen counter armed with cookie decorating devices resembling caulk guns and pipe the frosting around every edge of each cookie until they were masterpieces. Then we would promptly devour as many cookies as possible.

 

Showing off the traditional family cookies I made for a Hanukkah party in 2010.

Showing off the traditional family cookies I made for a Hanukkah party in 2010.

 

Underneath that sweet, creamy frosting is a thick, soft cookie. Grandma’s special ingredient, a touch of sour cream, makes the cookies extra moist. While the frosting is very sweet, the sour cream mellows out the sugar and brings the cookie’s taste into perfect balance. With the gentlest bite, you enjoy the texture, flavor, and love baked into each cookie. I’d swear I can taste those pastel colors, too.

 

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

 

When it was time to bake Grandma’s cookies this year, I decided to try something a little different. Instead of all-purpose flour I used Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour, and in place of the sour cream, plain nonfat Greek yogurt. These small changes produced a cookie with the same texture and taste as Grandma’s while allowing me to pretend that they were marginally healthy (okay, I know they’re really not, but a girl can dream).

 

I have a very methodical system for making and decorating sugar cookie cut outs. After the cookie dough has been prepared, I lay out a big piece of plastic wrap on my work surface and scrape the dough into the center. I fold the plastic wrap around the dough and press it into a flat slab before placing it into the refrigerator for ten minutes.

 

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

 

When it’s time to roll out the dough, I liberally flour my work surface. Since I don’t have a lot of kitchen counter space, I line my kitchen table with parchment paper and work there. Roll out the dough to ¼-inch thickness using a rolling pin, then cut out your desired shapes and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat. While one batch is in the oven, I work on cutting out the next round of cookies. When I’ve used up all of my dough, I simply ball up the parchment paper and my table is clean!

 

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

 

While the cookies cool on a wire rack, I prepare the frosting. Divide the frosting into small bowls and add food coloring to each bowl– this year, for the first time ever, I deviated from family tradition and made (gasp) green frosting! Each color of frosting is then transferred to its own sandwich sized plastic bag. Again, I cover my workspace with parchment and arrange the cooled cookies on the parchment to minimize mess and clean-up. To decorate, cut the very tip of the bag’s corner off to create a small opening to squeeze out the frosting (or, if you’re fancier than me, use a proper piping bag and tip).

 

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

 

All that’s left after frosting the cookies is to pour yourself a cold glass of milk and enjoy each bite of deliciousness.

 

Grandma's Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies (depending on size)

Grandma’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

These simple sugar cookies with frosting, a staple in my family, include a secret ingredient to make the perfect cookie.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups flour (all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream or plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    For frosting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • food coloring

Instructions

  • Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend butter into flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat eggs with sugar. Add to flour/butter mixture and blend until mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Mix sour cream or yogurt with baking soda and vanilla and add to mixer, blending until combined. Shape into a flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Spread flour on cutting board or table lined with parchment paper and roll out dough to ¼-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut into desired shapes. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Cool cookies on cooling rack completely before frosting.
  • To prepare the frosting, beat all ingredients using a stand mixer or hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Divide into small bowls and add food coloring. Transfer frosting to plastic bags or pastry bags (if using plastic bags, fill with frosting then use scissors to snip off the very tip of a corner). Decorate cookies with frosting.
  • Notes

    I realize that the order and method of combining ingredients is rather unconventional, but I decided to stick the the recipe as written in the family cookbook.

    http://www.stopcookandlisten.com/grandmas-sour-cream-sugar-cookies/


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