Saturday, June 30, 2012

RED ~ Strawberry Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies

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!
Life was much simpler then and the joy that day brought is forever etched in my mind.  We would start a day or two earlier deciding the menu and beginning to bake.  Pies, cakes, and brownies, but there were also the yeast rolls for the hot dogs and hamburgers, in case anyone didn't want to pick crabs.  Salads consisted of her famous potato salad, cole slaw, and a garden salad--fresh from my grandparents garden and my sister made her wonderful macaroni salad.

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.

Cheesecake Filling
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
 Use either an off-set spatula or a piping bag with a #12 round tip to fill the cookies, underneath side up, then, top with a "like" size cookie.'

 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! 



  1. Okay, I totally am in love with the idea of putting the dried strawberries in there! These look so good!

    1. Thanks! It really did give a natural strawberry flavor to the whole concept.

  2. Susan I love your pictures of yesteryear. Aren't they the best? Photos are absolutely priceless! I love the sandwich cookies you have developed--I'm going to give these a try as soon as I can. We have a lot of tree damage to continue to clean up from our storms of last evening. Unfortunately we are expected to get more storms tonight--at least the power is back on after being off for 17 hrs. Too hot for no power. Sorry to go on about that--thanks for the diversion! xoxo ♥

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your storms--I hate high winds and the threat of tornadoes. In fact, I tell everyone, "I'll take an earthquake any day over a tornado or hurricane!" If you're a strawberry nut (like my sister) then, you'll love these. The powdered freezed-dried strawberries really give a boost of flavor to these cookies, which would be great even without the filling, but then, I couldn't have named them Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies:-)

  3. Love the "RED"!! These little morsels look absolutely delicious! Can't wait to see the "WHITE" and "BLUE"!! 4th of July picnics at Mom's were the best--- wonderful food, the fellowship of family and friends and always ending with the infamous softball game. Hugs, Barb

    1. I'm feeling very nostalgic thinking back at the picnics at Mom's and so wishing I could turn back time. Baking will just have to be enough this year...whaa whaa<3

  4. Love sandwich cookies...Love your holiday memories! I'm a strawberry fan from way, way back. And, in a cookie AND with cream cheese/jam filling. Well, WOW! I like the theme of your posts in the coming days, too. Such a great idea. Happy 4th, my dear friend!! Lv, me

    P.S. I think these would look just lovely in the bakery case, yes? :)

    1. Now you're getting the idea of a bakery together--these would look lovely and it would be so much fun, yes!"
      I still think strawberries are one of those fruits that just speaks volumes of summer and all the picnics we'll have.
      Happy 4th of July, my dear friend, XOXO

  5. Those pictures from your past are terrific. sandwich cookies with strawberry cream inside.....YUM!
    stamping sue

    1. Dearest friend, Thank you for the beautiful, creative journal--what a lovely surprise. You always make the neatest books; I still have the one you gave me as a "going away gift!"
      These cookies would have been a nice treat for our stamping day--another time machine date I'd go back to. XOXO

    2. you are very welcome.
      yes, I agree these cookies would have been gobbled up by us. let me know the date and I'll be there. lol! hugs

  6. Another recipe which I must try some time. I really enjoyed your meander down memory lane - such wonderful memories and lovely photographs, Susan.
    I must digress a little, Jonny 'tried' one of your chocolate chip cookies with his coffee - he was hooked immediately and ate four of them straight off. George just looked at me and suggested I get another batch made pretty soon. Everyone who has tried them really does enjoy eating them - and I really enjoy making them!xx

    1. Those chocolate chip shortbread cookies are one of my favorite creations! I'm making some up this week to ship to a friend's son, who is in Afghanistan, and I know they will keep until they arrive.
      Memories are wonderful to keep in your heart, XOXO

  7. Yum! These look good! I don't think I've ever made sandwich cookies before.

    1. Hi Denise~They're really fun to do and gives that added little effort to make a plain cookie very special! Happy 4th, dear friend, XOXO

  8. Those cookies sound delicious! And thanks for sharing your special memories of past 4th of July celebrations!