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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

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.

Get the Recipe

Macadamia Cream Cheese Cookies »


About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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