Food is a powerful thing, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s a particular smell that can jolt our memory and transport us back to a great aunt’s kitchen on a warm summer day, and sometimes it’s taste. These cookies hit me with no warning. As soon as I took a bite I was immediately 18 again. I was a freshman in college, and although I chose a school right in Pittsburgh and could have easily commuted, I chose to live on campus. I was settled in, and while my Dad had to drive through the city to get to his job every day, he promised that there would be no surprise pop-in visits to my dorm room. That being said, we still scheduled a fair share of visits, usually once every week or 10 days. We would hop down to one of the eateries on campus (typically Burger King or Subway) for dinner, and he usually brought me some type of edible treat from my mom. At the time I was going through a huge love affair with sugar cookies from the grocery store bakery. One specific visit stands out to me. It was probably early November, a grey and dreary day (shocking for Pittsburgh, I know) and he brought me a box of sugar cookies. I savored them for days. I wish I could have had many more little impromptu dinner dates with my dad while I was in college as he was passing through town on his way home from work. Unfortunately, he passed away that spring, and these cookies definitely tugged at my heart strings this week.
To make what turned into a very long story short, these cookies taste exactly like the ones that he brought me from the grocery store, that I loved so much at that time.
I know I make a lot of sugar cookies and I already have a ton of recipes here on the site, but I couldn’t resist trying these when I saw them described as tasting exactly like the ones sold at grocery store bakeries. I was in… hook, line and sinker.
What I didn’t know, however, is that this is actually an old family recipe that was passed down from generations and when the Lofthouse folks first began selling them, it was from the back of a pickup truck. Now they deliver their cookies all over the country. I love stories like that!
These cookies are soft and moist, and a bit fluffier than the ones I usually make for decorating. They have that characteristic flavor of the bakery sugar cookies, which I think is due in part to the inclusion of sour cream in the batter. That also helps to keep them nice and moist. The buttercream frosting is incredibly easy to make, very light and also fluffy. Since my kitchen is well into holiday mode at this point, I went with plain white frosting and some Christmas sprinkles, but you could add a drop or two of food coloring to the frosting to make it whatever color you’d like, and decorate however you wish. The possibilities are endless!
Stored in an airtight container, these stay nice and soft, and I think they taste even better after sitting in there for a day or so. This is a fabulous, easy sugar cookie and frosting recipe for the holidays if you don’t have the time to tackle the traditional cut-outs with royal icing decorations. Enjoy!
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the flat beater attached, cream the butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and sour cream and beat at low speed until combined.
Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Dough will be a bit “sticky”. Divide dough into two sections. Flatten into rectangles about 1½ inches thick, then wrap with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or at least two hours until firm.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
Flour the countertop and the top of the dough. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, until pale golden. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Cook cookies completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar and the pinch of salt. Once smooth and creamy, add in heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two until light and fluffy. If desired, add food coloring and beat until combined.
Once cookies have cooled completely, frost and add sprinkles. Allow frosting to set, then store in an air-tight container. Let cookies sit for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to develop.