Thursday, February 2, 2012

I love sugar cookies on Valentine’s Day…. and every other day too!

This tasty little cookie isn’t lying. He truly is the yummiest! He’s also so happy it’s finally February and I have an excuse to bake loads of friends for him.  And really I need to take advantage of every possible excuse to justify the mountains of cookie cutters and masses of sprinkles I continue to collect. Now you all should know that you’re very, very special. This sour cream sugar cookie recipe has been a closely guarded family secret ever since we acquired it from Mrs. Murphy at a cookie exchange 17 years ago. We knew a good thing when we tasted it, and smartly hoarded all the amazing cookie magic to ourselves.  Actually, I didn’t even realize how precious this cookie was until I unwisely passed it on to a friend and my mother almost disowned me.
“You give her the recipe you give her the POWER! Now she will never need YOU for cookies!”
We’ve since learned how to share and over the past two years we’ve managed to pass it on without too much separation anxiety. (Apologies for keeping recipe all to yourself is best expressed with laminated recipe, cutters, baking sheets and sprinkles delivered during bridal showers.)  Yes, I know there is no shortage of sour cream sugar cookie recipes online, but only because I peeked yesterday.  I’ve never needed any of those other recipes! I have this one and well…. It’s perfect…. It’s all powerful! It’s the yummiest. You should make them for valentines and I will tell you how.
                Now like my cookie friend up there, I will be honest with you. (Can I call him a friend after I have chewed on him?)  I am by no means amazing in the kitchen. This is OK with me, I sort of feel like my mastery of rice crispy treats and sugar cookies more than makes up for any other shortcomings I might have. And while I am being honest I am going to tell you it took me a while to perfect these treats. I botched my first few batches, perhaps because on some level I would rather have my mother continue to do all the work and bake them for me forever. I learned this wasn’t a great strategy after my father retired from the Air Force and whisked my mother stateside. As a newlywed in Germany I looked at my sad, burnt and dry cookies and realized mom was not going to hop on a plane any time I got a hankering for this yumminess. (Which is on every holiday, including talk like a pirate day, and national yoyo day.) So I set to work, and discovered if I tripled the recipe I would get perfect cookies every time. (Three really is a magic number!) I made this realization just before I realized I could eat my weight in sugar cookies…. and then some. Folks, let’s not kid ourselves, these cookies will make you fat. Eating them with your girlfriends, or just before you work out isn’t going to save you. So make sure to use them for good, pass them around, take them to sexy firefighters, send them into work, because it’s valentines after all and people love a sugar cookie.  In my case eventually a cookie fairy god mother gifted me with a magical kitchen aid mixer which guarantees my sugar cookies will always be perfect. So even if you’re slightly incompetent in the kitchen like I am stick with it… it’ll be worth it.
              So what makes these cookies my absolute favorite? (Besides the cute shapes and tasty frosting and sparkly sprinkles?) These cookies are not crunchy. I hate crunchy sugar cookies. The only thing I want to crunch on my cookie is the sprinkles. I guess if you rolled them out really thin they could be crunchy, but WHY would you want to do that when you could have a fluffy, teacake-ish cookie which is a perfect partner to a cuppa coffee and some trashy TV? Be nice to these cookies and do not roll them too thin.  Do you think you might like to try them?
Here is what you’re going to need…..
2 cups of sugar
1 ¼ cup of softened butter (BUTTER I say!)
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream (Not low fat!)
1 tsp. both baking powder and baking soda
½ tsp. salt
6-ish cups of flour.       (Ohhhh… crud. I know it. I did the “ish” thing. I did tell you that I am no good in the kitchen.  Usually only add six, unless the dough seems extremely sticky, then you might add a little more. If my dough is a little sticky, I’ll be sure to add more flour as I am rolling it out the next day. You could also try playing a little music to lighten the dough’s mood. I get to go see Tool this weekend, so my future cookies and I rocked out to Lateralus.)
The first thing you’re going to do is cream together the sugar, butter, and eggs. Then add the vanilla and sour cream and mix well. Separately combine the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt  then slowly add to your wet mixture. Now is a good time to check if your dough needs a bit more flour, it is alright if the dough sticks to your finger, but it shouldn’t feel wet. While you’ve got your hands in there, as my friend Kati would say, it’s a good time to check your dough for poison.  If it’s yummy you can assume you’re probably safe.  Now chill that dough for at least two hours, but its better left in the fridge overnight. As long as it is wrapped up airtight you can probably leave it for two days. I cannot speak the longest you could refrigerate it because I have a hard enough time waiting the 12 hours needed!
  When you are ready to bake, grab your cutters and some extra flour and roll out that dough. If when you’re handling the dough it’s too sticky just mix in a bit of flour until it isn’t any more. As I mentioned, I don’t like thin crunchy sugar cookies, but I will let you determine which cookie thickness will make you the happiest.  Be strategic with your cutters, if you keep re folding left over dough back in you’re going to end up with really dry, puffy, cookies.  Bake at 350 on a nonstick cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. I can’t tell you how many cookies this recipe yields. It depends on what size cutters you’re using and how many you eat before you bother to count them, but it’s a very generous recipe. You can easily fill your cookie jar.  If the cookies are golden on top you’ve baked them too long. I know mine are perfect when I pull them out and they are still a little soft but browned on the bottom. They will firm up a bit sitting on the cooling rack. (If you break a cookie pulling it off your cookie sheet you know you have to eat it right? That’s the rule. None of my Valentine octopus cookies made it to the frosting stage. Such a shame.)
 Most of the time I have to frost my cookies the next day (when you triple the batch it can take all day to bake) so I throw them in airtight containers once cooled until I am ready. I use two different methods to decorate these cookies. There’s always the butter frosting I used growing up (YUMMY) and a recently added royal icing (Pretty). Loads of people do not really like the flavor of royal icing, I do, but mostly I love using it sparingly for detailed decorating along with loads of sprinkles.  When you color either of these make sure you use the cake frosting coloring gel, and not food coloring drops. The drops can prevent the frosting from firming up.
Butter Frosting
2-2 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ stick of softened butter
2 tablespoons-ish  milk
1 tsp. vanilla
             Mix all this with a hand mixer.  The frosting is going to harden up sitting out in the open air, if you’re a slow "froster" just add a tiny bit more milk and mix again to save it.  Frost with a butter knife and smash on the sprinkles.
            If you want to add some details with Royal icing I always peek at Martha Stewart’s recipe 
(I add a bit of vanilla to mine and get the powdered meringue at Michael’s.  Make sure you print out one of their coupons.)

                   TA-DA! Now you’ve got your hands on some yummy little sugar cookies.  Mail them to Grandma, decorate them with your kids, eat them while watching Project Runway….I hope you’ll have fun making them. If you don’t, you’ve at least got cookies as a consolation prize!
P.S.- Did you like those eyeball sprinkles? I found them at target. Sometimes they find their way into the boy's lunchboxes on monster sandwiches. Yummy.


  1. I am not a desert fan (as you know) but I can eat the hella out of these things

  2. Because they are the yummiest!

  3. This is your mother speaking....hyperventilating over sharing the recipe....but now that I can breathe again....I have made this with a hand held mixer just fine...but have always had to add that last cup or so in by hand otherwise my hand mixer's moter started to struggle. But I got a Kitchen Aid a few years ago and can mix the whole 6ish-7 cups in just fine on its own. Definately let it set up overnight, but only roll a small amount at a time. I let mine sit for 10-15 minutes before starting to roll. They puff ever so slightly while cooking so keep that in mind while rolling that you will get a slightly thicker cookie than what you've rolled. Thank you Kim Murphy...were ever you are!!

  4. mmmm, looks so good! i could eat that whole tray :)

  5. How awesome these look I can not even begin to describe from my end. Thanks for sharing. I love secret recipes and I have people in my life that can not cook to save their lives! So I love to make things that make them scratch their head while grazing until they've had a bit too much!

  6. Well if you guys try them let me know how they turn out! You still have 8 days to make them for Valentines! <3

  7. I have never heard of sour cream sugar cookies, so I def wanna try these out! That quote from your mom is precious; I think I have real lazy friends though because they never want the recipe, they just want me to keep making the food, lol. And 'testing for poison'? That's totally what I am doing when half the chocolate chip cookie dough batter disappears, haha! I've had to stop making those as less and less cookies were getting baked!

    Where do you get your syrup/sprinkle pourer thingies? I have a feeling they would work brilliant for other things like sugar (for coffee) or glitter (for everything else).

    1. I am always finding those syrup dispensers at the thrift shops. (I love the vintage ones.) But you could find brand new ones all over, like at pottery barn or target. I have a huge, HUGE, vintage one in my kitchen filled with rainbow jimmies which is my favorite!

      *And yah, cookie dough is the best.

  8. First of all i thank you for suggesting this wonderful cookie theme to celebrate a special day. No idea to wait, I would like to try this recipe now and store it a cookies gift basket for safe.