My daughters love giving food gifts. Sam is planning on making the cake for the first birthday of a friend’s niece. When Ardy, one of Alex’s friends from her theater circle, celebrated his birthday recently, she baked a custard-filled chocolate cake smothered with dark chocolate ganache. She also gave him a box of these Oreo cream cheese cookies.
They’re like that. And they don’t do it to impress nor to brag that they can bake. They do it because that’s how they affirm their friendship. For us who cook, it is not unusual to use food to eloquently express our affection. That’s one reason why we cook for our families. I’m not saying that those who don’t cook for their family are less capable of loving; they just find other means to express their love.
My mother who didn’t cook never understood that. I remember one time before Speedy and I were married, I cooked ox tongue in mushroom sauce to bring to his birthday dinner with his family. I was a young lawyer whose office was a two-hour drive from our house. I left the house early, I came home late… My mother could not understand why I would want to squeeze in cooking an ox tongue with a schedule like that. Why couldn’t I just buy cooked food from a restaurant? That was how she would have done it.
She had the same attitude when I decided to sew the flower girl’s dress when Speedy and I got married. And she repeated herself again when, a few years later, I made all the flower girls’ dresses when one of my favorite cousins got married (Sam and Alex were among the flower girls, in the photo).
It’s not easy to explain and the best way I can put it is that it is the creative process that makes the difference. Some people, including me, relish the process of creating something from scratch. We like to use our imagination, our hands and, yes, our hearts too to watch things transform. Whether it’s putting together flour, eggs and milk to make a cake, stitching together pieces of fabric to make a dress or just adding bursts of color to something plain, the feeling is the same. Creating gives off an incomparable high.
Obviously, it’s a mindset that my daughters inherited. So, when they labor over cakes or cookies to give to friends, I understand.
Alex baked these Oreo cream cheese cookies based on a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything. Crisp outside and slightly chewy inside, every bite bursts with chocolatey goodness.
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon refined salt
- 3 ounces cream cheese (85 grams), at room temperatue
- 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 Oreo cookies roughly chopped
- sea salt (rock salt will do just as well)
In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Beat the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. You can do this by hand but since this cookie dough was made with a stand mixer, the following are instructions for mixing the dough using a stand mixer. Choose the paddle attachment and beat on high for a minute.
Add the brown and white sugars to the cream cheese mixture. Over medium speed, mix until smooth.
Add the egg; mix until fully incorporated.
Set the speed to low. Add the flour mixture slowly. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl occasionally.
Dump the chopped Oreo cookies into the dough and fold in using a spatula.
Cover the bowl with cling film and chill the dough for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Line a cookie pan with non-stick baking paper or a silicone mat.
Using a small ice cream scoop, scrape the chilled cookie dough and release on the prepared pan about two inches apart.
Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. The actual baking time depends on the size of the cookies AND how your oven performs. No two ovens are ever the same. As a guide, after 15 minutes, use a spatula to partially lift one cookie. If the bottom is lightly browned, it should be done. You can bake the cookies a little longer to allow the edges to brown but that is totally optional.
Cool the Oreo cream cheese cookies on the sheet for a few minutes to allow them to firm up a bit. Lift with a spatula and transfer directly to a wire rack. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of rock salt. Cool completely.
Store the Oreo cream cheese cookies in an airtight container at room temperature. BUT if you live in a region where the humidity goes above 90%, it is a better idea to refrigerate the cookies after 24 hours.