When Meghan McGarry reflects on her earliest childhood memories, few are as easy to reconstruct as trips to local bakeries in New York. Those were the moments that captivated her imagination, setting the stage for pastry school at the the International Culinary Center and later starting up her own business.
"Trips to our neighborhood bakeries were always the most exciting thing," the owner of the beloved Buttercream Blondie brand told Salon Food in a recent interview. "It was the ultimate mother-daughter activity."
The enchanting sight of that big display case packed with assorted cookies, eclairs stuffed with cream and beautiful layer cakes was the equivalent of seeing Cinderella's castle at Disney World for that young girl from the Bronx who loved to play with her mom's mixer.
Whether to buy a banana cream pie for Nan's birthday or a plate of cookies for a church function, each trip had a purpose. But it also carried the promise of a souvenir. McGarry was allowed to pick one pastry to enjoy on her own, and she's always pick a cookie.
If you're from New York or have visited the Big Apple on a trip, you'll recognize her favorite cookie in an instant: the sprinkled butter cookie. They instilled in McGarry a love for rainbow sprinkles, which add a nostalgic feel to the traditional desserts she makes over at Buttercream Blondie.
"I was always enamored with them, but sometimes the taste didn't live up to how beautiful they looked," she said.
Now that we've found ourselves suddenly at home, McGarry has been daydreaming about being able to walk into a brick-and-mortar bakery again. Among her recipes, readers have turned almost exclusively to comfort desserts as they bake their way through survival. There's nothing that sparks warm feelings of comfort to McGarry more than those memories of visiting bakeries with her mom.
And then it dawned on McGarry: Just because she couldn't visit the bakery right now didn't mean that she couldn't recreate that magic at home. And thus her newest recipe was born — one that reimagined the nostalgia of a childhood favorite while at the same time taking it to soaring new heights.
"This is my interpretation of that butter cookie. The added pairing of vanilla bean and a splash of bourbon yield another layer of flavor," she said. "It adds that warm cozy factor you want in a cookie, and it balances the sweetness at the same time."
The other star ingredient in these reimagined bakery cookies is cream cheese. The addition of this favorite New York ingredient creates an almost velvet-like texture. The end result is a cookie that's crisp on the outside yet perfectly soft on the inside."
What's truly beautiful about this cookie is its versatility, which suits nearly any occasion. If it's one o'clock in the afternoon. and you want a nosh with your cup of coffee, this fills that void. They're incredibly satisfying but also light, so you can have one or two of these cookies after dinner and satisfy your sweet craving without feeling full.
Yields four dozen half-ounce cookies
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or extract
- 2 tbsp. Bourbon
- 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup rainbow nonpareils
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
Click here to access the remainder of Meghan McGarry's confetti cookies recipe. And don't forget to follow @ButtercreamBlondie on Instagram for more ways to spike your desserts!