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Macadamia Nut Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields 30 cookies*     adjust servings

These are not your average Macadamia Nut Cookies! A simple shortbread dough rolled in chopped macadamia nuts, then baked and dolloped with the best cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle some cardamom on top and these are the perfect Christmas cookies! A unique and delicious cookie for you to add to your list this year!


For the dough

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks (save the whites!)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For rolling

  • 3 egg whites, beaten with a fork til bubbly
  • 2 cups macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For the frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
  • cardamom, to sprinkle on top


  1. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat 1 cup of softened butter until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add 3/4 cup sugar and beat together for 1 minute, until light and fluffy.
  3. Divide 3 eggs. Add the 3 egg whites to a small bowl and set aside. Add the egg yolks to the butter mixture and beat well, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla and beat.
  5. Add 2 and 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat until all the white streaks of flour are gone, scraping the sides and bottom well. If you are using a hand held mixer, you might need to use a wooden spoon to get it to come together. Don't over mix the dough. 
  6. (At this point, if you would like to mix in the chopped macadamia nuts instead of rolling, add 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of chopped nuts to the dough and mix in before chilling. When you roll the dough into balls, there is no need to use the egg whites. Just roll, flatten, and put them on the baking sheet.)
  7. Cover the dough and refrigerate until chilled, about 1-2 hours.
  8. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. (Or you can spray the pans lightly with nonstick spray.)
  9. Shape the chilled dough. You can either do tiny 1 inch cookies, or about double that amount (1 and 1/2 to 2 inch balls of dough) for larger cookies.*
  10. Whichever size you make them, use your fingers to flatten each ball of cookie dough a bit. See photos. The cookies do not have any baking soda or powder in them, so they are not going to rise or spread much at all in the oven.
  11. Use a fork to beat the 3 eggs whites that you set aside earlier. Make it nice and frothy.
  12. Have your macadamia nuts well chopped and ready to go in a small bowl. You can use a food processor if you like them very finely chopped. I just used a sharp knife.
  13. Dip each cookie in the egg whites and coat completely, then roll in the chopped nuts. Use your fingers to press the nuts into the dough a bit if they are not sticking well.
  14. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets with at least one inch in between cookies (they don't rise or spread much).
  15. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes if you have made 1-inch cookies, and about 13-14 minutes if you have made them larger. The edges of the cookie (and the macadamia nuts) should be light brown. They should also be brown on the bottom.
  16. Let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely.

For the frosting

  1. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Beat softened 1/2 cup butter and softened 6 ounces of cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy, scraping the sides.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Beat well. Add the remaining 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat. If the frosting is too thick for your liking, you can thin it with milk, add 1-2 teaspoons at a time.
  3. When the cookies are completely cool, frost the top of each cookie generously with the cream cheese frosting.
  4. When all the cookies are frosted, sprinkle with cardamom. I just pinched my finger into the jar.
  5. These are best served on the first day. If you are waiting a day to serve them, I would frost and sprinkle just before serving.
  6. You can freeze the dough! I have some in my freezer right now: shaped, dipped in egg, and rolled in nuts. I put them in a ziplock in the freezer and plan to bake them later this month. Add 2-4 minutes to the bake time. I would bake them within 3-4 weeks if you freeze.