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Seven Sweet-Savory Cookies To Make with Cheese

Of course today is National Cookie Day, because it’s most definitely cookie season. Even though it’s been a while since I poured a glass of milk and put a few colorfully iced, cut-out sugar cookies on a plate for Santa, I believe that homemade cookies are a holiday tradition worth keeping. I like to bake 10 or 12 varieties, and as each is done, I stash the cookies in tins in the cold garage until I’m ready to package them up to give away, arranged on festive paper plates, wrapped with cellophane, and tied with ribbon. 

In addition to old family favorites, I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe or two to add to the mix. Because I love a sweet-salty combo (hello, sea-salted caramel) I’ve decided that this year’s lineup will include one cookie made with cheese. Will it be the luscious-looking Gouda Sandwich Cookies, or the intriguing Blue Cheese Thumbprints, maybe with fig jam? I know I can’t go wrong with any of the following ideas from our archives, and neither can you!

Aged Gouda Sandwich Cookies

Sweet and a little savory, these cookies created and photographed by Jackie Botto for One Cheese, Five Ways play off the salty caramel flavors of aged gouda. She suggests pairing them with bourbon or sweet vermouth for dessert.

Pistachio-Apricot Rugelach

Photographed by Beryl Striewski

This classic rugelach recipe, adapted by culture‘s former food editor Leigh Belanger from baking doyenne Dorie Greenspan, swaps walnuts and currants for pistachios and apricots. Cream cheese makes the dough easy to work with and gives the super-rich finished product a tender quality.

Fennel and Olive Cookies

fennel and olive

Photographed by Beryl Striewski

Belanger also developed the recipe for these treats, which walk the sweet-savory line. A little sugar in the dough brings out the fruitiness of both the Pecorino Romano cheese and the oil-cured olives. They’re lovely with before-dinner drinks and make a welcome gift with a special bottle.

Jammy Blue Cheese Thumbprints

Photographed by Beryl Striewski

A third recipe from Belanger’s series, Adding Cheese to Cookies, these savory-sweet nuggets are like a self-contained cheese pairing. She suggests trying try fig jam or orange marmalade in the center of the cookies, or experiment with any of your favorite flavors.

Hazelnut Chocolate Bars with Crème Fraîche

Hazelnut-Chocolate Bars

Photographed by Beryl Striewski

Chocolate ganache is typically made with heavy cream; here Belanger swaps in crème fraîche, adding a welcome tangy note to these deeply chocolaty bar cookies.

Oatmeal-Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Goat Cheese

Oatmeal-Ginger Sandwiches with Goat Cheese

Photographed by Beryl Striewski

These crisp, delicate cookies— adapted by Belanger from award-winning baking teacher and author Nick Malgieri—are the ideal foil for whipped chèvre’s citrusy favor and light, fluffy texture.

Blue Cheese and Fig Shortbread

Blue Cheese and Fig Shortbread

Elaine Khosrova, culture’s original editor-in-chief, suggests Point Reyes Bay Blue cheese for these lightly sweet and delicately savory cookies. They are as good with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon as they are with a glass of sherry or wine in the evening.


Susan Axelrod

Susan Sherrill Axelrod is a former editor of Culture. Her love affair with cheese began at age 12, when she bicycled to a gourmet shop to taste an exotic newcomer—French brie. She lives with her partner in midcoast Maine, where she enjoys a well-made cocktail, hiking with their dog, Lucy, and spending as much time as possible on the water.

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