Many of my favorite recipes come down from my mother’s mother. She had a sense for simplification – take the best and leave the rest – which is a particularly useful philosophy for cookies. These are delicious, sturdy enough for packed lunches, basic enough to take on any sort of variation, and pretty after a plain, Yankee fashion (much like the woman herself).
Martha Snyder’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
48 smallish cookies, 36 big ol’ Martha Stewart size
1 C sour cream or yogurt
1 tsp baking soda
2 C sugar
4 C white all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ C butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
Preheat oven to 400 (200 C, gas mark 6, moderately hot) and grease cookies sheets. I use Silpat sheets, you’ll also need a cooling rack and, eventually, a cookie jar. This recipe does not require a mixer.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk the baking soda into the sour cream or yogurt and set aside. Mix the melted butter and sugar until well-incorporated, add eggs and beat well. Stir in sour cream mixture and extracts, add dry ingredients and mix gently until incorporated.
Drop by heaping teaspoons (for 48 cookies) or serving spoons (36 larger cookies) onto greased cookie sheets and bake 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar if you like – coarse sugar on top allows for easier stacking later. They will not brown, except on the bottoms. Move to a rack to cool completely before storing.
Rolled cookies: I make these as drop cookies because I find that the extra flour and handling tends to make them a little tough, however they are very pretty. Chill the dough for at least an hour before rolling out on a floured board and using your favorite cookie cutters. You may need to adjust baking time down by a minute.
Jacob’s Cookies: Add 1 heaping Tbls finely ground Earl Grey tea, 1 C white chocolate chips. Use the dry tea straight from the box or bag, not an infusion. Two bags = 1 heaping tablespoon. Ice with lemon glaze.
Blueberry Cookies: Add 2 C small wild blueberries or dried blueberries, ice with lemon glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice until smooth. When the cookies are cooled completely pick them up and dip the top of each one in the glaze – much easier than spreading the glaze with a spoon or spatula.
NOTES: The original recipe calls for ¼ C butter and ¼ C lard. I generally use all butter these days, but lard will make a firmer cookie that stands up better to the addition of fresh fruit such as blueberries, raspberries, or peach chunks.
One of the many reasons I need to publish a cookbook is that my own documentation is in such rough shape! Here is what the card for this well-loved recipe looks like after decades of hard use around my coffee habit:
And yes, I left the nutmeg out on purpose. I never put it in – no one in my family likes nutmeg other than in their Yuletide eggnog – sorry!