The 4th of July is around the corner (yes, it's almost July!!) and I can't help thinking about all the glorious picnics we had at my parent's house. This was probably my mother's favorite holiday; maybe because all our family and their friends came together or my dad would buy a couple of bushels of Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs for the feast--which she loved. Anyway, for me, my memories go back to the baked goods, wonderful salads, and the softball game that followed in the field my grandfather cleared for us.
|Yes, that's me (years ago!) eating crab|
|That's Kelly (from behind) in her "sleeping bonnet" that Grandma bought her in Williamsburg--She wanted to wear it for the patriotic occasion!|
It's a day that is part of our heritage and a remembrance of all those that fought for our freedom. In honor of the Red * White * Blue, over the next few days I'm baking to show off the colors. Today, I'm starting with Red ~ Strawberry Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies, a recipe I've created to not only show off the color, but one of the desserts that so often appeared on the buffet table! I found these remarkable snacks called "Just Strawberries," that are 100% natural freeze-dried strawberries to accentuate the color and the flavor to add to my cookie dough.
The cookie dough is one of my favorites (with a few changes) from my grandmother who first introduced me to "ice box cookies." Along with their cheesecake-like filling, these cookies make the perfect bite for picnics or tea parties.
Strawberry Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3 large egg yolks
2- 1.5 bags "Just Strawberries"
1/2 tsp. Strawberry Flavoring
1 tsp. Vanilla Bean Extract Crush or Extract
3 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1-2 cups of Graham cracker crumbs (for rolling)
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a mini food processor, grind the freeze-dried strawberries to a powder.
With 2 bags you will get 1 cup of "powdered" strawberries. Add to the batter, along with the strawberry flavoring and Vanilla extract.
Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the dry ingredients. Mix just to incorporate all the flour. Use a spatula to "pull" dough together and turn out onto a bread board to divide.
I cut my dough into fourths for ease in storing in the refrigerator. Form each section into a 1 1/2" diameter roll.
Place the graham cracker crumbs on a parchment lined baking sheet and roll the dough to coat the sides. Place in plastic wrap and chill the dough for at least 2 hours. (At this point the rolls can be placed in a gallon freezer bag and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.)
Preheat oven to 325F-degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a serrated knife to slice the dough into 1/4"-cookies. Place on the cookie sheet, about 1-inch apart and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Let rest on the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup Strawberry Jam
In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla bean paste together. Add the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium to incorporate thoroughly. Stir in the Strawberry Jam.
|I used some of my homemade Strawberry Jame|
The cookies, if not serve immediately, should be kept in a cool, dry place--mine are in the plastic container in the refrigerator awaiting our picnic. You could also freeze them if desired. This recipe easily makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the roll.
Family picnics give us so many good memories--I hope everyone has a wonderful 4th of July. Enjoy!