Friday, October 21, 2011

Cream Cheesy Pennies

These cookies are so good that I seriously considered renaming this blog in their honor.

Instead, I renamed the cookies, in the hopes that they will make themselves at home here and never leave me.

Cream Cheesy Pennies
Known elsewhere* as Cream Cheese Cookies, these are my new favorite things.  Not only are they a snap to make, they taste sinfully rich, without being fussy or fancy.  They're homemade and comforting, but impressive and different enough to trot out for a dinner party.   The flavor, slightly tangy from the cream cheese, is marvelous.

Then there's the magic of the texture:  Crispy and chewy, with a melt-in-your mouth burst of buttery softness in the middle.   The closest I can come to describing it is to have you imagine eating a fresh coconut macaroon, without the coconut.  But why imagine eating a modified macaroon when you can actually eat one (or six) of these in no time.  Seriously.  Start now, and you can be begging them to move in at your house in about 25 minutes.

Bonus benefit:  The base recipe practically cries out for you to get creative.  I made them plain.  I threw in some lemon zest and almond extract.  Then I went exotic and added anise seed, too**.

Double bonus benefit:  There are zero eggs in these, so if you know someone who is allergic, these are perfect.  They are also perfect if you get a craving for cookies in the middle of the night, and are out of eggs but somehow have cream cheese in the fridge.

Base recipe:
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. of almond extract
1/2 tsp. of anise seed, ground lightly with a mortal and pestle

Preheat oven to 375, and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.

Using an electric mixer, blend butter, cream cheese, and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.   If you are adding in anything extra, blend those ingredients in now.   Stir in the flour and the salt, either with a wooden spoon or using the slow speed on the mixer, just until incorporated.  Don't overmix!

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets.  It's good to not make the cookies too round and smooth, so you get more crispy edges and ridges when they bake.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until edges are a burnished golden brown, but centers are still quite pale.  Watch carefully, as baking time may vary a lot depending on your oven.   I put my cookies on a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven, to keep the tops from getting brown too quickly.

Allow to cool for a minute or two on the baking sheets, then transfer to a cooling rack, give them a few more minutes, then enjoy.

Click to print this recipe!

* I'm putting their source location here in the footnotes, so they won't have an easy way out.  It's Food52, a wonderful website of recipes, tips, and shared kitchen experiences.
** I suppose you could even add coconut.  In case you were wondering which version I liked best, I have to say my favorite was the anise, but it was an awfully close call.   I had a local cookie expert sample all three.  She came down in favor of the almond/lemon combo, but was also a fan of the plain. Anise, being more of an acquired taste, didn't do it for her.


  1. cream cheese is just so magical. these are great little nibbles, the perfect vehicle for any number of dips, spreads, or toppings!

  2. Thanks, Dawn! And yes, Grace, I am beginning to believe cream cheese is magical, or at a minimum should be upgraded to the category of "staple" in the kitchen.