Baking Challenge: Sour Cream Cookies

There is a wondrous place in the mall where I work.  It’s a bakery stand.  It opens every Friday and Saturday.  I patronize this business much more often than I should, and I’ve gotten friendly with the man who runs it because I’m there so much (and because he’s so nice).  He sells pies, cakes and cookies of all sorts, but the one treat I always come back to is sour cream cookies.  They are delicious.  But they’re also a bit on the pricey side:  $4.50 for a bag of six.  I’m usually willing to spring for them since I love them so much, but I’m trying to watch my spending, so I decided to see if I could recreate them at home.  What I turned out today was by no means an exact replica.  I was going to tinker with it a bit to try and get it closer, but my sister and my boss claim they’re better than the ones from the bakery, so who am I to argue?  They were pretty good, if I do say so myself.  The cookie recipe is from my Betty Crocker book, but it did not call for icing, and since the best thing about those cookies is the icing, I tried to reverse engineer it using the ingredients from the label on the last bag I bought.  I just had to guess at the amounts.  The consistency of my icing was slightly thicker and a bit more creamy.  Thinning it with just a bit more water would probably make it run and harden, which would be more consistent with the original I was trying to duplicate.

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

1/2 cup shortening (part butter or margarine)
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup granulated and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (Fresh grated nutmeg intensifies the flavor.  Microplane!)
1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla thoroughly.  Blend dry ingredients; add to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream.  Divide dough; roll out to 1/4″ thick on well-floured pastry cloth.  A lightly floured board works fine, too.  The purpose of the cloth is to keep the dough from picking up too much extra flour, or so my mother tells me.  Cut with a 2″ cutter; place on greased baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sugar.  I omitted this step, because I wanted to ice them and sprinkle them with sugar afterward, as the bakery does.  Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Mine browned within 5 or 6 minutes.  Watch them closely.

My Icing

1 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted  (you can skip sifting, but you’ll just have to use more elbow grease to get out the lumps later)
1 1/2 tbsp. margarine
1/4 tsp. butter flavoring
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. + 1 tsp. water

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Icing is not an exact science.  You can do whatever you want with it.  For a thicker icing, add more powdered sugar.  For a thinner icing, add more water.  If you want it richer, use cream or milk instead of water.  For more intense flavor, add another splash of vanilla.  Make it to suit your tastes.  And always taste it!

Add a small dollop of icing to the center of each cookie, and spread it outward towards the edges in a circular motion with a spoon.  Sift granulated sugar (colored, if desired:  just a few drops of food coloring and a lot of mushing in a Ziploc bag will do it) over the iced cookies.  Allow icing to set.

And now, an anecdote about nutmeg graters, since it sprung to mind as I was grating my nutmeg this afternoon.  When I was young, I went on a trip with my parents, and for some reason we were driving two vehicles.  I was riding with dad, and someone else was riding with mom.  As we drove down the highway, I remarked on all the thistles growing wild along the roads, and dad recited a little ditty for me:

Tender handed touch a nettle,
And it stings you for your pains,
Grasp it like a man of mettle,
And it soft as silk remains.
So it is with common natures,
Treat them gently they rebel,
But be rough as nutmeg-graters,
And the rogues obey you well.

This verse was printed in a dictionary by Samuel Johnson under the entry for “Grater,” and was attributed to A. Hill.  Dad had read it there and remembered it.  In due course we arrived at our destination, dad’s vehicle leading.  He bypassed a choice parking spot to allow mom to park there, but she overlooked this and followed him through the lot.  He exclaimed in frustration, whereupon I grinned at him and said, “Treat them gently, they rebel.”  And he grinned back, his temper for once neatly defused by his youngest daughter.

And so I leave you to contemplate what treat I may concoct next week.  Happy baking!

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7 Responses to “Baking Challenge: Sour Cream Cookies”

  1. kat Says:

    I’ve never heard of sour cream cookies before, those look so good! Thanks for sharing! I’m new to blogging and love that there is a foodie community! If you have time, please check out my blog: http://shecooksandheeats.wordpress.com/. And of course! Any advice would be great 🙂

  2. bumble525 Says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog, kat! Looks like you’ve got some tasty recipes on yours as well. I’ll have to give some of them a try. 🙂

  3. thelmajoy Says:

    Perhaps you have found a new calling: cookie baker?

  4. bumble525 Says:

    It makes a good hobby, but I think it’d make a terrible career. 🙂

  5. thelmajoy Says:

    Do what you love and the rest will follow. These cookies are really some of the best I have ever tasted!

  6. bumble525 Says:

    Did mom get any? 😉

  7. Holiday Baking: Sweets for the Sweet (and my family!) « The Gumball Machine Says:

    […] tried 5 new recipes, not to mention all the batches of old favorites I’ve cranked out (Sour Cream Cookies and Margarita Cookies were back by popular demand).  I found two of my experiments (Brown Sugar […]

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