One of the best things about being a baker is watching people enjoy what you’ve made. When you’ve put a few hours (or more!) into making something delicious, it’s always a treat when your friends really love it. I am really lucky–for the last 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to make cookies for 30+ of my closest acquaintances every Wednesday night. My cookie commitment is one of the highlights of my week. I love bringing in whatever I’ve been working on lately and seeing how it goes over with the crowd. If all the cookies disappear within the first half hour, I know I’ve got something blog-worthy. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies have done that three times. Three.
I first made these cookies about a year ago. It was one of those rare days when I was down to a single stick of butter. I sat in front of my refrigerator dreading going to Trader Joe’s at rush hour (read: every single hour they’re open) just for butter. I mean, if I’m going to brave that kind of craziness, I better need at least five different things, and the free sample better be taquitos. I dug around the back of my fridge for something–anything–that might work, and lo and behold, I found a half-brick of cream cheese. I mixed it into some dough, baked some cookies, and headed out the door.
I set these cookies on a platter next to the coffee pot and waited for the crowds. I wasn’t expecting much, if any, fanfare–they were just oatmeal cookies, after all. But life is funny, and less than thirty minutes later the cookies were gone and my friends were raving about the super chewy texture!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies have been one of the few recipes I’ve repeated with that group, and they disappear in a flash every single time. Last night, they were gone in fifteen minutes flat!
So, why does cream cheese make these cookies so special? Well, it’s all in the chemistry. In standard oatmeal cookie recipes, eight ounces of butter are softened and beaten into the wet ingredients. The high fat content in the butter allows for the resulting cookies to bake up super tender. There’s plenty of chew from the oats, but the cookie base stays pretty soft.
If, however, you use four ounces of softened butter and four ounces of softened cream cheese, the resulting cookies will be extra chewy. This is because cream cheese has a butterfat content of 35% and a water content of 55%. Butter, on the other hand, has a butterfat content of 84% and a water content of 15%. The fat (butterfat, in this case) is what keeps our cookies from drying out and becoming rocks. It keeps everything moist after the water evaporates and makes the resulting cookies super soft, chewy and delicious. It also keeps them from spreading very much in the oven.
Where standard oatmeal cookie dough has 84% butterfat, this oatmeal cream cheese cookie dough has about 60% butterfat. This means that a) the resulting cookies will be slightly chewier than they are soft, and b) they will have fewer calories, so you can eat more with less guilt 😊
Whew! That’s a lot of science for a Thursday. Too much.
The point is this: these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies aren’t your average oatmeal cookies. While you may not be able to really taste the cream cheese, you will notice the extra chewiness…and trust me, you’ll love it.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4oz full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown and granulated sugars, followed by eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in two installments, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in oats in two installments, followed by chocolate chips.
Drop dough onto prepared pans by the tablespoon, keeping them about 2 inches apart (the cookies won’t spread much). Bake 9-11 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process until all dough has been used.
Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.