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Anyone who knows me knows that I have a secret love of kitsch. I like Tiki bars, aprons with cherries on them, and Saved by the Bell. My house isn't decorated with cat clocks, but that's what so great about having a secret love. Only your closest friends can send you a postcard of two kids kissing and know that deep inside you wish you could put it on your fridge.
On my recent trip to Hawaii, I found myself in kitsch heaven. There were tourists everywhere actually wearing Hawaiian shirts. I got "lei'd" when I checked into a hotel. The supermarket had a wall of Spam. And, more than once, I found myself drinking a mai-tai with a colorful paper umbrella in it. It was everything I had hoped for.
When I got home, I wanted to recreate a little of that Hawaiian magic so I bought myself a jar of salted macadamia nuts and turned on my oven. I didn't want to make the classic (and delicious) white chocolate macadamia cookies, but I did want to pair macadamias with vanilla. Because macadamias are a little soft and creamy, I thought that cream cheese would make the perfect, tender cookie base.
And I was right: these are soft cookies with a prominent vanilla flavor. Because they are so mild, I went heavy handed on the macadamias. (I call for salted nuts but don't worry, these cookies aren't salty.) The cream cheese simply makes for a soft, moist base—in fact you can hardly taste it at all. The resulting cookie is just the kind of nutty vanilla sweet that would be welcome on pupu platters everywhere.