Cream Cheese Shortbread

creamcheeseshortbreadMy mission to find that delicious, albeit nameless, bakery cookie from my childhood continues with today’s cream cheese shortbread. And while this recipe yields a delicious treat, it does not, unfortunately, produce that delicious nameless bakery cookie from my childhood.

Someday, when I finally find the right recipe, I think I’m going to call it the white whale. For now, though, experiments continue. Fortunately, the experiments are quite tasty.

I found this recipe on Pinterest, from another food blog called Mama Likes to Cook. The end result is a great twist on a classic shortbread, and the addition of the cream cheese yields a lighter texture than you’d expect.  Although I’ve left these plain, you could definitely dress them up with a chocolate drizzle, tint them for holidays, or turn them into sandwiches with some chocolate or vanilla filling.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment or foil.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and cream until light and fluffy, for another 2-3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl well, then add vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Add flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until very well combined.

On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough and knead just slightly; you will have a very soft, flexible dough.

Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with desired cutters; I used a square cutter with fluted edges. Scraps are very easy to re-roll; just add a dash of flour to keep your dough stable.

Place on prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart and bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges are firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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.

 

 

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

pumpkin cupcakePumpkin baking continues! This weekend I made some pumpkin chocolate chip bread and I had a little more than a cup of pumpkin left over, so I wanted to try something new. I found this recipe online and first thought it was more muffin-like than cupcake-like, but the end results are definitely in the cupcake family. They have an excellent texture, likely due to the combination of pumpkin puree and vegetable oil, and just enough spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg.

These cupcakes pair well with maple cream cheese frosting, which is one of my favorites ever. Just make sure you use real maple syrup – the pure stuff – rather than maple flavoring for this frosting; while you could probably use maple flavoring, I doubt it would be the same. If you’re lacking in pure maple syrup, you could certainly frost these with plain cream cheese frosting or cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with paper liners; my recipe yielded 14 cupcakes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a large glass measuring cup, combine pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix well, then add all at once to the flour mixture. Stir until well-combined and smooth.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, fill cupcake wells about 3/4 full.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven; immediately remove from tins and place on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Preparation

In a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and cream cheese for 2-3 minutes, until very fluffy.

Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until well-combined; add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and beat until well-combined. Add remaining powdered sugar and maple syrup, beating until very well-combined.

Frost cupcakes using an offset spatula. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.