Monday, June 8, 2020

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (MoW Cookies)

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies are a perfect mixture of sandy texture and not-too-sweet taste. As a bonus, these cookies don't spread and warp in the oven (especially if you keep the dough cold) and they are perfect vehicles for icing! I made most of these with special-issue Halo cookie cutters that my sister won from Mercy of Whims during a game-streaming tournament (Marbles on Twitch!), but I couldn't resist a cookie just for them!


One of the things I have truly missed during these days of social distancing is the ability to go out and connect with friends. Ironically, I am by no means a "people person" despite working with people every day - I still thrive on my "alone time" which is usually spent in the kitchen, but the reality of quarantine means that any chance to interact with others is severely limited. When my classes moved online in March, I felt even stranger as the children who (often) drive me crazy also gave me a sense of purpose.


However, social media works wonders, and I was so fortunate to have come across a Facebook trivia night hosted by @mercyofwhims shortly before everything shut down completely. One night of general knowledge (which is still my favourite) turned into a weekly ritual, then a multiple-days-a-week gathering which quickly grew into a community spanning across the globe. Trivia grew into a Twitch-based game of Marbles which fills up at least 3 nights with music, laughter and fun. From the fun came the addition of prizes - which is where these cookies began. One of the events had a prize of Halo-themed cookie cutters, which I did not win due to my broken horseshoe luck, but my sister has a way with these things and scored them herself! It was a tacit agreement that not only would I get to use them first (and probably exclusively, given what I do) but that cookies for out host TurkeyBoots would also be made. Since we all grew to know each other over the weeks, I also met a new friend in my area to partake in the cookie fun, and one of my current pals from Zumba (who joined the fray) was always on the list.


Normally, I abhor sugar cookies - they're too sweet, too crunchy, and just lackluster. That's where these beauties come in, because while they are sweet, that sugar is mediated by a dose of cream cheese and salted butter in the dough. The reduction in the cookie's sweetness serves another critical purpose too - making them a vehicle for icing! And ice I did, coming out of the kitchen yesterday with a kaleidoscope of colours on my hands (not least due to a bag of powdered colour bursting on me).


Now, if you're planning on going "whole hog" with these through to the outlining and filling of icing, be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. Not including the overnight chilling, cooling and 24 hour dry time for the frosting, this batch (1/3 of all the dough I made) took 6 hours of hands-on labour and a lot of awkward, half-bent-over standing. That said, the payoff is 150% worth it, and with a few days of rest I'll tackle the next round, keeping the batches double wrapped in the freezer for freshness.

Find MoW (and join in on Trivia and Marbles nights!):
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Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies (MoW Cookies)
Makes ~30
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup full-fat cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup whole milk or cream
4 cups flour
1/2 cup pastry flour (or 1/3 cup all purpose flour + 3 tbsp cornstarch)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well blended.
  2. Add the milk and mix for 1 minute, until mixture is smooth
  3. Slowly add in the flours, salt and baking powder while mixing. Dough should be soft but not sticky.
  4. Divide dough into three pieces, shape each into a disc and wrap in plastic.
  5. Chill overnight, or freeze up to 6 months.
  6. Heat the oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4" thickness and cut into desired shapes.
  8. Transfer cookies to the baking sheets. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
  9. Bake, one sheet at a time, 8 to 10 minutes - until lightly browned. Keep remaining cookies in the fridge or freezer until they are ready to bake.
  10. Cool completely on the baking sheet.