I come from a family of many traditions, particularly on my mother’s side. It’s a large Irish-Catholic family made up almost entirely of women, or rather made up almost entirely of women who call the shots over my uncles. They take traditions very seriously, many of these are food related. Cherry Twizlers and Peppermint Patties at every family function (no doubt a reflection of the ‘low’ and ‘non-fat’ eating trends of the 90s that my aunts followed), various dips named after people that I never knew at 4th of July picnics (I mean seriously, who was Helen Gorman and why did she have a dip that pink?), and of course plates and plates and plates of cookies at Christmas.
Some people are savory people. They crave salt, crunch, chips, cheese, meat, etc. I’m not one of those people, if you told me that I would have to live off dessert and sweets for the rest of my life, I would be completely ok in doing that, I would in fact be delighted. I attribute my extreme sweet tooth to the neverending collection of cookies at every Harrington family Christmas gathering, that for a number of years while being a very picky eater as a child, is what I chose for Christmas dinner.
And like every other Irish-Catholic family residing in the suburbs of the Northeast, these cookies aren’t just baked and modestly appear on some tray, their preparation is an event, a family affair.
Every December, there is a chosen day dubbed “Cookie Day”. My aunts come together, armed with hand mixers and baking sheets, and bake until they can’t bake anymore. I remember these days as a child, in which I would do absolutely nothing to assist in the cookie production, but demanded to wear an apron and eat as much frosting as I possibly could sneak. Over the years, “Cookie Day” shifted as my cousins and I grew up. We were busy with after-school activites, being in our teens and too cool to bake cookies, and then before we knew it, we were out of the house being college kids, and then really being too cool to bake cookies.
But just like many cookies, things come full circle. I’m not sure if my height of coolness has just peaked or my idea of cool has shifted and is now suspended in cooking times, gluten percentages of various flours, and Le Creuset Dutch ovens.
You can then imagine my excitement over my mother’s call regarding “Cookie Day” not being in Syracuse this year, but rather at my Aunt’s home in Albany, a short and sweet (ha!) bus ride for me. I would be there, still demanding an apron, still eating as much frosting as I could sneak, but this time I would participate.
And participate I did, we made a variety of cookies…pecan tassies, red velvet snowballs, rugelach, and these. These deliciously soft and tender drop cookies that are made sweeter with my Mom’s frosting. In a frosted cookie, the frosting recipe is critical/essential/the deal breaker, I’m convinced that this frosting is thee best one out there. Perhaps I deem it great because it’s what I’ve been eating since I was a toddler being bribed with cookies, or perhaps it’s the perfect soft confectioners’ sugar to velvety evaporated milk ratio, or perhaps it’s tradition, and one that is taken very seriously and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you take frosting and cookies very seriously?
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
-3 1/2 C. to 4 C. unbleached AP flour
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 C. sour cream (8 oz.)
-1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-3/4 C. vegetable oil
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
-In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
-In a seperate large bowl, cream together sugar and sour cream until completely combined, about 2 minutes if using an electric mixer. Add vanilla extract, vegetable oil, and 2 eggs, continue to mix until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.
-Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, about a 1/2 C. at a time, mix until completely combined. If dough seems very tacky after all the flour has been added, you may want to add another 1/2 C. of flour.
-Drop 2 tbsp. sized balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving about 4 inches between cookies.
-Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating tray halfway through the bake.
-Cool completely before frosting and decorating.
Yield: About 32 cookies
-1/4 C. butter
-2 C. confectioners’ sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-4 Tbsp. (plus more) evaporated milk
-In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar, use caution the sugar will fly away! Stir in vanilla extract.
-Add evaporated milk gradually and beat until creamy. If you’d like a creamier frosting, add more evaporated milk by the Tbsp.
-Divide into bowls and add a few drops of food coloring to each if you’d like before frosting.