Sugar Cookies Add a Taste of Christmas in July

In the mid-1700s, sugar cookies were invented by Moravians who came from Germany and settled in the Nazareth, Pa., area. The Nazareth sugar cookie (or Amish sugar cookie, as it is also known), became very popular — and centuries later, controversial!

In 2001, via Pennsylvania House Bill 1892, the Nazareth sugar cookie was proposed as “the official cookie of the Commonwealth.” However, in both 1999 and 2003, the Pennsylvania Senate considered bills that would bestow that distinction upon the chocolate chip cookie (which is surely popular in Hershey, Pa.). It appears that the Pennsylvania General Assembly has remained a house divided since that time, leaving the Commonwealth without an official cookie.

If it’s any consolation to those in Nazareth, they can lay claim to creating the unofficial cookie of Christmas. Sugar cookies are simple to make and easily shaped — especially since American tinsmiths began cranking out cookie cutters in the 1800s. Today, when Santa comes down the chimney, he is often greeted by sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees, angels, stars and so on.

But this treat isn’t just for the holidays; National Sugar Cookie Day is July 9. So let’s celebrate a bit of Christmas in July with this recipe. It isn’t exactly what the Moravians made in the 1700s (they couldn’t run to the supermarket for vanilla extract, you know) but it’s very easy because you don’t need to chill the dough, and of course it’s fun for kids to decorate.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Stir the flour, baking soda and baking powder together in a bowl.
  • In another bowl, combine the butter (which should be completely softened), cinnamon and sugar, and mix together until smooth.
  • Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  • Gradually add the flour, baking soda and baking powder mixture.
  • Roll about a teaspoon of dough into balls; place these onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  • Bake until golden (about 8-10 minutes), let stand 2 minutes on the cookie sheet, then place on cookie rack to cool.
  • Frost and decorate as desired.

— Matt Rehm