Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

The first time I made this recipe was a baking revelation for me.  It was a few years ago and I was looking for a few unique cookie recipes to try in the Thanksgiving/Christmas time period because we expecting a considerable amount of visitors at my parents house.  I was relatively green in the baking realm at this point and I remember poking around some websites and trying to come up with some good recipes to try. I ended up pulling a few from Martha of course, because she has always been a go-to of mine (with a grain of salt).

This recipe came from Martha, and it caught my eye because it was a make ahead dough and the flavors added a good diversity to the recipes I had already picked to make.  I was intriuged by the addition of cream cheese to the batter.  At this point I only really knew how cream cheese worked in cheesecakes or cream cheese brownies.  I was definitely pleasently surprised.

The cookies, which I reently made for the “coffee break” a few weeks ago, are great with a hot beverage because they are kind of plain and crumbly.  They function similarly to shortbread but the cream cheese gives them a little bit more moisture than typical shortbread. And I love the addition of the walnuts to add some flavor and crunch.  Like I said above, they are a great make ahead dough.  You make the dough days or weeks in advance, and form it into logs.  When you’re ready to bake them you just slice the logs and bake them off. It’s basically the equvilant of when you buy sugar cookie dough logs from the store to slice and bake, except the dough is home made.  So frankly, not only the ingredients, but the method was a revelation for me.Cookie tray

Cream Cheese Walnut Cookies

Yeilds about 50 cookies depending on size (it’s a big batch, feel free to cut it in half), adapted from Martha

Ingredients

  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese (not whipped), room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbs plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups walnut halves (1 1/2 cups toasted and coarsely chopped and 1 cup finely chopped)

Method

  1. Combine flour with salt and set aside.
  2. Cream together cream cheese and butter to a uniform whipped consistency with an electric mixer.  Add sugar and mix until combined. Then add vanilla.
  3. Gradually add in flour then fold in the first 1 1/2 cups of chopped walnuts.
  4. Divide the dough into logs that are as thick as the desired diameter of your cookies.  Then wrap them in parchment and plastic and chill overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350.
  6. Roll the chilled logs of dough in the remaining finely chopped walnuts and slice into cookies.slice it up
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes until slightly golden brown.  Allow to cool and enjoy!ta da!
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The Best Pumpkin Bars Going

A few years ago, when I was just taking a real interest in baking, I decided to bake several different cookies and bars to have on hand around Thanksgiving.  My family always hosts Thanksgiving at our house, and we typically have several house guests for the entire long weekend.  This means that we not only have to cook for the main event, but we have plan meals and snacks for four days straight.  This is when stashes of cookies comes in handy.

That year I found this recipe for pumkin bars on the Martha Stewart website and it seemed easy enough for a beginner.  Let me tell you, these did not dissapoint.  While some of the other cookies I made lingered for most of the weekend, these bars were gone within one day.  I have since made them for various groups of friends and family and they get raves every time.

Do yourself a favor, when you get in a pumpin mood, give these a try!  They are great warm from the oven, or even cold from the freezer.  And by the way, they only use one cup of pumpkin from the can, so I love to use the leftover canned pumpkin to mix into my morning oatmeal!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

Make one 9 x 13 pan, about 20 bars depending on size, from Martha

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 Tbs pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a 9 x 13 brownie pan with parchment (it will make it much easier to get them out).
  2. Combine the flour, spice, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Cream butter, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla.
  4. Alternate adding batches of the pumkin and dry ingredients.  Mix to combine, but try not to overmix the dough.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pour batter into parchment lined pan.  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.  Allow to cool completely, then cut and serve!

Getting on the Bandwagon

So I’m not sure about you, but I keep stumbling upon pictures of Miley Cyrus out and about everywhere.  Miley is obviously a celebrity at this point, but I’m not 100% why.  She earned her celebrity status in a traditional manner through nepotism and a television show, but what has she done lately?

Though she’s young and I’m sure she has a lot ahead of her in her career, right now she reminds me a little of people like Jessica Simpson.  Yes she was a popular singer at one point.  Yes she successfully transformed that into several brands and business ventures.  Why exactly do the paparazzi follow her around now?

Anywho, confusion aside, Miley has recently been happy to endorse the option of going gluten-free.  I find this option extremely appealing, but seemingly impossible to practice.  While I do believe it would be beneficial to my digestive system, I would hate to put what seems like an extreme amount of effort into meal planning.  Especially since I don’t feel I have severe medical reasons for doing so.

But then I saw this decadent recipe from Martha, and gluten-free never seemed so delicious:

Flourless Double Chocolate Pecan Cookies (Gluten Free)

From Martha

Yields about 12 depending on size

Ingredients

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 oz. chopped bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (I also saw a version in her magazine with macadamia nuts)
  • 4 egg whites (room temp, FYI baking with egg whites only works with real eggs, not egg whites from a carton)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, chocolate, and pecans.  Stir until mixture is uniform.
  3. Add egg whites to mixture and stir to make sure mixture is wet throughout, but try not to over mix.
  4. Drop dough as flat discs on parchment lined baking sheets.  The cookies will expand slightly in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes.  The cookies will look dry and cracked when they’re done.

I enjoyed these because they an intense chocolate flavor and because of the egg whites they have a meringue-like consistency to them.