Cream Cheese Cookies

creamcheesecookiesI’m on a mission to find a recipe, with one very basic challenge: I have no idea what the cookie I seek might be called.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Preparation

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.

 

 

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Vanilla Whoopie Pies

vanilla whoopieThe whoopie pie comes in many varieties. I wanted to make classic chocolate cake/vanilla filling whoopies today, but I lacked buttermilk and didn’t think a sour milk substitution would do the trick. And so, I opted for a reverse on the classic: vanilla cake/chocolate filling whoopies.  (And how fun is it to say whoopie pie, by the way? A lot of fun.)

The vanilla cake part of this recipe is an adaptation from King Arthur Flour’s Double-Vanilla Whoopie Pie, and the chocolate filling is slightly adapted from a version I used in my homemade fudge rounds. I’ll admit: the flavors need a bit of tweaking, and next time I’ll probably add some more vanilla to both, and I’ll likely add more cocoa powder for the filling to ramp up the chocolateyness.

Ingredients

Vanilla Cakes

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 11 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup milk

Chocolate filling

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter for about 2-3 minutes, until very light and fluffy.

Add baking powder, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract, and beat well.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl between each.

Add flour and milk alternatively, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing until batter is just combined. Batter will be thick and fluffy.

Using a 2-inch cookie scoop, scoop dough onto prepared sheets, placing about 2 inches apart; you should have 6 scoops on each sheet.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, until edges are set and tops are just slightly springy. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, beat shortening and butter on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and almond extracts and beat until combined.

Add cocoa powder and 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Slowly add 2 additional cups powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes; if your filling is thin, add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar and beat again until the consistency is fluffy.

To fill, flip cakes over and, using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of filling onto half of the cakes. Spread with an offset spatula and top with another cake.

Wrap whoopie pies in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container at room temperature. You could probably refrigerate these, but they might dry out a bit.