Cherry Cheesecake Cookies (recipe on page 148)
AND CELEBRATION EXPLOSION CAKE
Pretty little cookies that capture the flavour of cherry cheesecake in a two-bite taste sensation are a lovely accompaniment to a cup of coffee. The cookies, rolled in graham crackers, are crisp on the outside and soft in the centre. You can bake the cookies and make the topping ahead, but assemble them up to 2 hours before serving so they don’t soften too much. If you’re pressed for time, a store-bought pie filling for the topping will do in a pinch.
8 square graham crackers (approx.)
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
6 oz (170 g) brick-style cream cheese, softened ¼ cup (60 mL) butter, softened
¾ cup (175 mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract
1 cup (250 mL) drained sour cherries from a jar or thawed frozen sour cherries (see TIP on page 148) ½ cup (125 mL) cherry juice from a jar or reserved from thawing, or water, divided ¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
4 tsp (20 mL) cornstarch
⅛ tsp (0.5 mL) almond extract
(or ¼ tsp/1 mL vanilla)
1 For the cookies, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
2 Place graham crackers in a resealable plastic bag and gently crush with the bottom of a measuring cup to make coarse crumbs (some will become fine crumbs). Transfer to a bowl.
3 Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar until smooth and creamy. Beat in egg, lemon juice and vanilla until blended. Stir in flour mixture, in 2 additions, until a soft dough forms.
4 Scoop a rounded tbsp (15 mL-plus) of dough for each cookie and roll into a ball. Roll in graham crumbs, squeezing to adhere. Place on prepared baking sheets, at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. 5 Use the back of a deep spoon to flatten balls and make an indent in the centre. Dip the back of the spoon in crumbs if it gets sticky. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
6 Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for about 20 minutes or until cookies are slightly puffed and feel firm to the touch. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Store in a cookie tin at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
7 For the filling, combine cherries, ¼ cup (60 mL) of the juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar and mashing cherries slightly. If using frozen cherries, simmer for 3 to 4 minutes or until cherries are softened.
8 Whisk cornstarch into remaining cherry juice and stir into saucepan. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Transfer to a bowl, place plastic wrap directly on the surface and let cool completely. (Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
9 Up to 2 hours before serving, spoon cherry filling on top of cookies.
Makes about 24 cookies