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Aside from these classics, the recipes in my book also include directions for customization with alternative ingredients and techniques to produce entirely new desserts that still feel American through and through. Take these cookies 'n' cream cookies, for example. They're a riff on my snickerdoodles that trades a dusting of cinnamon sugar for a handful of crumbled Oreos (store-bought or homemade). It's a simple swap that transforms an otherwise plain vanilla dough into a cookie that feels familiar, even if you've never had such a thing before.
It starts out with those aforementioned Oreos, chopped into bite-size pieces, then tossed into a bag and bashed a little with a rolling pin to kick up some extra crumbs. I opted for homemade Oreos because it's kind of my job to make everything from scratch, but there's no shame in picking up a package at the store.
Either way, toss those cookie bits in the freezer until the filling is frozen solid, about two hours. This helps the "creme" survive the baking process, so you'll have plenty of intact Oreo chunks to unearth within the cookies—the same sense of discovery that makes digging through a pint of cookies 'n' cream so fun.
The dough itself is identical to what's used for the snickerdoodles in my book, with a portion of coconut oil standing in for butter to make the cookies extra chewy and rich. Coconut oil also limits browning, for a light and clean flavor that's reminiscent of vanilla ice cream. An all-butter cookie would develop more toasty brown-butter notes, which would be somewhat at odds with the mellow profile of cookies 'n' cream.
Virgin coconut oil is super nice with these cookies, as it gives them an aromatic boost without being overtly coconutty, but refined coconut oil is the way to go if you want a truly neutral profile. The process is straightforward: Cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugar until fluffy and light, then beat in a whole egg.
After you've incorporated the flour, add the frozen cookie bits and continue mixing until they're well combined. Divide the dough into two-tablespoon portions (I'm all about using volume for portioning), roll each piece smooth and round, then flatten them into half-inch disks. The jagged bits of Oreo encourage the cookies to spread irregularly, so rounding up the dough will offset that effect; meanwhile, coconut oil tends to minimize spread, so flattening prevents the cookies from getting too thick. If you'd rather have a thicker cookie, feel free to skip the smash.
If you like, the dough can be garnished with a few extra chunks of Oreo pieces, or just a sprinkling of crumbs to enhance the cookies 'n' cream look. Whatever you choose, bake on a parchment-lined half sheet pan at 350°F (180°C) until the cookies are puffed and firm around the edges but rather pale overall, about 12 minutes.
Remember, coconut oil limits browning, so you can't judge doneness by color, as you would with other cookies. By the time these turn golden brown, they'll be hard and hopelessly dry, rather than soft, chewy, and rich enough to remind you of ice cream.
They're absolutely perfect with a glass of milk, but their soft and chewy texture makes them killer for ice cream sandwiches, too. A scoop of vanilla would be grand, but if you're game for a little Oreo Inception, might I suggest Oreo-infused ice cream instead?
Truth be told, while it's fun to gild the lily, these cookies are amazing all on their own, with crunchy Oreo bites studded throughout the soft dough—alternating bursts of chocolate and vanilla, just like a dish of cookies 'n' cream.
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