Think of these Turtle Cheesecake Cookies as a cookie version of those irresistible chocolate turtle candies. These soft cream cheese cookies are filled with caramel and pecans and drizzled with chocolate just like the original. They are the perfect addition to any holiday cookie tray. But watch out, they go fast!
Are you busy warming up your kitchen with the aromas and flavors of Christmas baking? I've been elbow deep in peppermint chips, caramels, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut for the past couple of weeks.
So far, I've got my Lebkuchens, Snowball Cookies, these Turtle Cheesecake Cookies and, my newest one, Almond Shortbread Cookies with Chocolate Filling baked and ready for my holiday cookie trays. What have you been up to?
These cheesecake cookies are a number one favorite at Christmas. They're easy to make and have all the flavor of those caramel-y turtle candies that I can never get enough of. They take just a little extra effort to drizzle all that warm, rich chocolate and caramel over them but they are so worth it!
So now you're wondering, why add cream cheese to a cookie? The cream cheese takes on the role of butter and helps these cream cheese cookies bake up soft and moist. Their vanilla flavor and subtle sweetness are the perfect complement to the ooey-gooey caramel and the sweet chocolate chips, while their tender texture is a great foil to the crunchy nuts.
Table of contents
- Salted Caramel Cheesecake Cookies - Replace melted caramel with salted caramel ice cream syrup and drizzle over the top of the cookies
- Toffee Pecan Cookies - use toffee bits in place of the caramel bits. You can also use more of them in place of the chocolate chips too.
- Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies - make a chocolate cookie dough, similar to my Chocolate Mint Cookies, and combine with the add-ins
- Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies - make a chocolate cookie dough and add 2 cups of chocolate chips instead of the caramel bits
- Not a nut fan? Leave them out. The cookies are super yummy either way.
Baking Tips for Cheesecake Cookies
Take care to measure the flour correctly. Always scoop the flour into the measuring cup and level off with a knife.
Make sure the butter and the cream cheese have been brought to room temperature. They should be soft to the touch. This will ensure a creamy, well-incorporated dough.
DO NOT OVERBAKE these cookies! The more you bake them the crisper and more crumbly they become. Take the cookies out of the oven when the bottoms are just getting a hint of golden brown and the tops are lightly tanned.
How to Make Cream Cheese Cookies
- Gather all your ingredients.
- Place butter, cream cheese and sugars in a large mixing bowl.
- Cream until light and fluffy.
- Continue beating while adding egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Combine baking soda and salt with flour and add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
- Beat until well mixed.
- Add all your add-ins.
- Stir well.
- Shape into balls by rolling between plams and place on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or sprayed with nonstick spray.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies should be just slightly browned. Remove to wire racks after 5 minutes and let cool completely.
- When the cookies are cooled, prepare drizzles by melting chopped chocolate in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in-between until melted and smooth.
- Add the cream to the caramels and melt in the microwave using the same procedure as above. Stir until smooth.
- Place melted chocolate in a resealable plastic bag. When ready to drizzle over cookies, snip a small hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle in one direction covering all the cookies.
- Repeat with the caramel sauce by placing it in a reseable plastic bag and drizzling in the other direction.
Don't those look delicious!!
These turtle cheesecake cookies are the perfect addition to any cookie exchange parties. If you're wondering how to host a cookie swap of your own, read on.
How to hold a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party
It's that time of year for making cookies and sharing them with family and friends. And what's better than hosting a cookie swap so you can party and share sweet treats at the same time!
Every year I hold my Christmas Cookie Exchange Party and invite neighbors, co-workers, and family. Here are a few simple steps to host your own.
- Send out the invites! Let each person know to bring 3 dozen baked cookies (of the same kind).
- Ask each one to email their cookie recipe to you.
- Set up a large table with a holiday tablecloth and sheets of parchment paper to lay out the cookies when the guests arrive.
- Time to party! I serve appetizers, like Kahlua Pecan Brie and Shrimp Crostini, and a special dessert, like Chocolate Peppermint Marble Cake, along with a mix of drinks.
- Now the good part! At the end of the evening, everyone collects their empty cookie tins and goes around the table taking a certain amount of each type of cookie. This depends on how many people have attended.
Everyone goes home with the same amount they came with and their Christmas cookie baking is done! Oh, and they get emailed all the cookie recipes for the cookies they collected so they can make their favorites again.
This year, with my move to Georgia, I'm participating in a virtual cookie swap. We call it The Sweetest Season Cookie Exchange. When you're ready to drool, just take a peek at all the deliciousness that my friends have created. Oh, how I wish I could take some home!
More Christmas Cookie Swap Recipes
Chocolate Peppermint Drops - are super easy to make with just a boxed cake mix and 3 ingredients. And you'll love all the chocolate mint deliciousness.
Peanut Butter Snickerdoodles - is a soft chewy cookie where the flavors of a peanut butter cookie meet the cinnamon-y flavor of a snickerdoodle for a whole new taste sensation.
Eggnog Cookies - are deliciously soft and chewy cookies that have all the rich flavor of eggnog combined with nutmeg, cinnamon, and, of course, a touch of rum.
Find the best cookie recipes here on 2CM!
Turtle Cheesecake Cookies
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup cream cheese, room temperature (4 oz)
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed tightly
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup caramel bits
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 2-3 oz dark chocolate, broken up
- 6 oz caramels (about 20 pieces)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment or a silicone mat.
- In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, and sugars until creamy. Continue beating while you add egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- Continue beating while you add egg yolks and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture beating until well mixed.
- Stir in caramel bits, chocolate chips, and chopped pecans. The dough will be thick.
- Shape into balls or drop by rounded tablespoon on prepared cookie sheets. Leave about 2" in-between as they will spread slightly.
- Bake 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheets for 4 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
- Once cool, place wax paper on a cookie sheet under the wire racks, then drizzle cookies with melted chocolate and caramel sauce.
- To melt chocolate, place in microwave-safe measuring cup and melt in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until all chocolate is melted. This usually takes about 1-½ minutes. Place in resealable plastic bag, cut a small hole in one corner and drizzle over cookies.
- To melt caramels, place caramels and heavy whipping cream in microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl. Melt in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring in-between, until smooth. It usually takes about 1-½ to 2 minutes. Place in resealable plastic bag, cut a small hole in one corner and drizzle over cookies in the opposite direction than the chocolate drizzle.
- Let set then store in covered tins on the countertop.
This post has been updated with new photos and step-by-step directions. It was first published on December 15, 2014.