When I was a kid, my grandma occasionally brought home cookies from a bakery several miles north up the Allegheny River, in New Kensington or Natrona Heights, I can’t recall exactly. Whenever she went, she returned home with a specific kind of cookie; scalloped at its edges, flavored with vanilla, not as sweet as a regular sugar cookie, decorated with one teardrop-shaped dollop of icing.
A few weeks ago, someone from another department at work brought in cookies from a local bakery. I know neither the name of the person who brought the cookies, nor the bakery from whence they came. Square, edged with walnuts, with a dollop of icing; they tasted so similar to the mystery bakery cookies of my youth, I could hardly believe it. But what, on earth, are they called? I have no idea.
I’ve scoured the internet with no luck yet, but suspect that they might be cream cheese-based. My friend Carrie sent me a cream cheese cookie recipe long ago, which I decided to bake today. Although they’re not the mystery cookies of my youth, they are absolutely delicious. According to Carrie’s recipe, you can tint them different colors for holidays, or just leave them plain. Many thanks for this recipe, Carrie – they are amazing.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and shortening. Scrape down the sides of your bowl, then add the sugar and cream until well-combined.
Add egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined. Add flour, mixing until a soft dough forms; I waited until mine pulled away from the sides of the bowl to stop mixing.
Using a small (one-inch) cookie scoop, scoop dough and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 12-15 minutes; cookies will crack just slightly, and that’s okay. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.