SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - Beautifully decorated sugar cookie cutouts are a Christmas tradition, and many folks have a favorite sugar cookie recipe. But how many bakers can say their recipe originated in Germany more than a century ago?

Amelia Zastrow brought this recipe when she emigrated from Germany to Wisconsin in 1883. She passed it down to her daughter and granddaughter, and now, her great-granddaughter, Martha Bergh of Scotch Plains, is the fourth generation of the family to master the treasured recipe. More than 100 years after Amelia left Germany with her special recipe, Martha is teaching her teenage sons to carry on the tradition of baking their great-great-grandmother's  Zucker cookies.

Topped with a simple powdered sugar icing and a sprinkle of colored sugars or nonpareils, a platter of these festive sour cream sugar cookies is sure to take pride of place on your holiday table.

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Sour Cream Sugar Cookies

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups flour

Cream sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Stir baking soda and salt into flour. Add dry ingredients to batter. Mix well; chill overnight. (Don't rush this step--dough must be well-chilled.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough to a thickness of 3/8" (for soft cookies, don't roll too thin) and use cookie cutters to cut shapes. Bake 8-10 minutes, until edges just begin to turn golden. Cool briefly on a cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. Frost with icing of your choice and decorate as desired.