“You must be a tough cookie” — one of many similar sentiments when our decision to build a home was announced. I chuckled to mask nervous confusion because, for those who know me well, it’s no secret that my proverbial cookie is warm and tender at the center; very seldom tough.

Shortly thereafter, those sentiments were realized. Our once smooth ride to the finish began to twist. A miscommunication there, an incorrect assumption here, and a handful of glaring oversights.

Nauseating and maddening as the construction has been on occasion, the final stage is at hand. The excitement grows daily. And though I may be slower to make peace than he, we’re pleased with a recent flurry of activity:

+ cement patio poured

+ windows and sliding glass doors placed

+ addition of exterior siding, wood shakes and flagstone

+ shingles complete on the roof

+ gas line re-routed to the island

+ fireplace installed

+ plastering of drywall seams

Highly anticipated are the hardwood floors, granite counters, ceramic tile and appliances. Most of all we dream of the double wall ovens and five-burner gas cook top with downdraft. Sweet thoughts are also reserved for the rescue of our cooking tools and bakeware from storage.

As it stands now, projected move-in is set for the middle of November. While I await the new kitchen (and the portion of my mind that’s AWOL), dessert is kept painfully simple. This week, a not-so-tough cookie.

A cream cheese cookie. To spice up an otherwise plain, albeit delicious bite, we replaced one half of the all-purpose flour with almond flour. We then ran in two directions for flavoring: classic lemon + lime zest, and festive orange zest + cinnamon.

Whether you choose to go original, take after our flavorings or dream up your own, don’t overbake! You’ll end up with a tough cookie.

Zesty Cream Cheese Cookies: Two Ways (makes about 24 cookies)

Printable recipe

8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 t each of lemon and lime zest, OR (our preference) 1/2 t orange zest + 1/4 t cinnamon, OR omit flavorings entirely to match the original recipe

1/2 c white granulated sugar

1/2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 c almond flour

1/2 t salt

Heat the oven to 350º F. Using a standing mixer or hand beaters, cream together the butter, cream cheese, your choice of flavorings (if using) and the sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in the flours 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 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1 1/2″ between each cookie to allow for spreading. Bake about 12 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Try not to over-bake, otherwise the cookies will not be tender.

Cool slightly on the sheet and then remove with a spatula to finish cooling on a rack.

Adapted from Food 52

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