With the exception of Pepperidge Farm Mint Milanos, my mother made most of the sweet treats in our house growing up. I've written about her chocolate chip cookies, her banana bread and her white chocolate snowflakes, but I realized that in all the years I've been writing about food–and poaching her recipes–I've never written about what is perhaps her most iconic cookie. Her cream cheese cookies are revered not just among my immediate family members–they're probably my mother's most requested recipe. Countless family friends have incorporated these into their repertoires over the years, and for good reason.
The cookies couldn't be easier to make, which makes them ideal for last-minute bake sales or houseguests. They're chewy in the center, where the texture is kind of like a coconut macaroon, with buttery, burnished edges that crumble like a sandcastle gently collapsing. The cream cheese gives the cookies a nearly unidentifiable tang that keeps you reaching for just one more.
My favorite part, though? My mother got the recipe at a Tupperware party in the 70s. One of the women brought a batch of the cookies with her, and at the end of the party she dictated the ingredients and instructions to all of the other guests. Who knows how many subtle variations of this recipe exist today, legendary among countless other families? —Merrill Stubbs
about 24 cookies
unsalted butter, at room temperature (we recommend using Land O'Lakes)
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Using a standing mixer or hand beaters, cream together the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in the flour and salt, just until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and give it a quick stir with a spoon to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets lined with parchment, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between each cookie (they will spread a little). Bake for about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Do not over-bake, or the cookies won't be chewy! Cool slight on the cookie sheet, and then remove the cookies with a spatula and let them finish cooling on a rack.