Tag Archives: cream cheese

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

 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.

Cream Cheese Pie Dough

imageThis was a big weekend in New York City. It was Halloween, which is always a production (I skipped it). It was the weekend of the New York City Marathon. And most importantly (to me anyway), it was the beginning of pie season! I celebrated by making three apple pies with my friends, Liz and Kat, and watching the final game of the World Series while eating too much pizza. But back to pie season–it’s wonderful time of year when we make and eat pie for two months straight and don’t care who knows it! The holidays demand pie, and I am happy to oblige. Between now and Thanksgiving, I’m going to post three pie recipes! Make sure to check back each week–you may just find your new favorite holiday dessert. But before we get to the pies themselves, we have to talk about crust.

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Pie crust is notoriously intimidating. If you let it get even the slightest bit warm before it goes in the oven, it loses flakiness. If you don’t add enough liquid, it’s crumbly. If you add too much liquid, it’s a sticky mess. Even if you get the dough right, there’s the rolling, transferring to the pie plate, and crimping. And there are so many options! Butter, shortening, ice water, buttermilk, vodka, vinegar, sugar, no sugar–it’s enough to make your head spin before you’ve ever turned on the oven! All that said, the method is very simple: cut cold fat into dry ingredients, stir in cold liquid, knead and chill, roll and bake. That’s it. Simple. But not easy.

For years, I’ve used Deb Perelman’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. It’s an excellent recipe, and her accompanying pie tutorials simply cannot be beat. But I am one of those people who can’t leave perfection alone, so last April I threw some cream cheese in there, just to see what would happen. It was a good decision. The combination of cream cheese and butter guarantees a rich, flaky crust–it never turns out dry. The cream cheese also allows for easy rolling. It helps prevent tears–this dough can be flipped and turned and rolled and cut every which-way, and it almost always remains intact. If you do get a tear, just patch it back together with your fingertips–no problem! Instead of using ice water in my dough, I am partial to cold buttermilk. While ice water would do, it adds no flavor and makes this particular crust a little tougher than I’d like. We need acid to make things tender, and if we’re going to use one, it should add a little flavor. Buttermilk is the answer (isn’t it always?). And there is no question as to how much liquid we’ll need in this crust–it’s 1/4 cup every single time. There is no guess-work here!

imageimageWe have to talk about one more thing: the food processor. So many people love to mix up their dough by pulsing everything until it comes together, but it’s never worked for me. I either get a crumbly crust, or a tough, over-worked mess. I use a pastry blender (pictured above). It allows you to get a feel for the dough while you are putting it together, rather than having to guess while looking at your ingredients through a wall of plastic. It takes the guess-work out of the mixing. Pastry blenders are roughly $5, and they can be used for lots of things: pie (obviously), biscuits, even guacamole and mashed potatoes! Get one–you’ll love it.

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imageimageimageThe dough begins with mixing together flour, sugar, and salt. Then, using your pastry blender, cut 8 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese into the flour mixture. Next, stir in 1/4 cup of cold buttermilk, knead it all together for a minute or two, wrap it in plastic, stick it in the fridge, and you’re done…for an hour. Once the chilling time is over, place one disc of dough on a well floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, press down on the dough, rolling in one direction a few times. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll again. Repeat this until your dough is at least twelve inches in diameter. If it starts to stick to your surface or your rolling pin, dust with more flour. If it gets warm, chill it for ten minutes before starting where you left off. To transfer it to your pie plate, gently fold it into quarters, and place it in the pan with the scraggly edges hanging over the edge. Unfold the dough, and voila! The crust is in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch of overhang. Then fill with your favorite filling. If it’s a single crust pie, you can crimp the edges and put the pie in the oven. If you want a double crust pie, put the filled crust in the fridge while you roll out the second crust just like you did the first one. Cut it into strips if you want a lattice (more on that very soon!), or leave it whole if you want the whole thing covered. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch, crimp the edges, cut a few vents (if it’s fully covered), and it’s ready for the oven. Preheat the oven only AFTER you have finished assembling the pie. Now, you are roughly one hour from a hot homemade pie coming out of your oven!

Check back later this week for the first of my three pie recipes this month!

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Cream Cheese Pie Dough
makes two crusts, enough for one double-crust or two single-crust 9″ pies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 cup (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, very cold, cut into cubes
1/4 cup buttermilk, very cold

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese into the bowl. With your pastry blender, cut the ingredients together until the largest bits of butter and cream cheese are the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk, and give it a quick stir to distribute. Put your hands* in the bowl to knead the mixture until it comes together.* Form the dough into two discs, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour, or up to two days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the surface. Press the dough with the rolling pin. Roll it in one direction 3-4 times, and then turn it 90 degrees. Roll in one direction 3-4 times. Repeat rolling and turning until dough is at least 12 inches in diameter, dusting with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold dough in quarters, and place in a pie plate with the scraggly edges hanging over the outside of the pan. Unfold the dough to fill the pan. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Fill crust with filling and chill for at least 15 minutes. From here, there are two options.

  1. For a single crust pie, crimp the edges, and brush them with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F.* Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, covering the crust with foil halfway through. Let cool at least three hours.
  2. For a double crust pie, roll out the top crust the same way that you did the bottom crust. Cut into strips for a lattice,* or leave whole to cover the whole pie. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Crimp the edges and brush the crust with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F. Cut vents if the top crust is whole. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for at least three hours.

Notes:

  1. If your hands are warm, run them under cold water for thirty seconds (and then dry them) before kneading.
  2. There may be a tablespoon or two of unincorporated ingredients. Just pat them onto the discs before wrapping them in plastic wrap. They will incorporate during rolling.
  3. Do not preheat your oven until after your pie is completely assembled. This is very important!

Cream Cheese Pie Dough