By no means am I a traditional holiday baker. The holidays brings the welcome challenge of innovation for me. This year, the task of marrying my husband’s love of cheesecake with something my nieces and nephews will adore has been nothing short of troublesome. My husband’s favorite dessert is fruit-topped cheesecake, and every kid loves a soft, fresh-baked cookie.
This Christmas, I had to bake my nephew some cookies considering he specifically asked to decorate cookies with his “Aunt Lenny”. I was not going to show up with plain ol’ cut and bake cookies.
Cranberry and orange was the first flavor that flooded my mind when I thought of Christmas treats, and how easy would it be to take some creamed cheese (which most of us keep in the fridge) and stuff it inside.
Welp, not as easy as you think. I had to throw out the first batch because my batter was too thin.
A few tweaks later, and my kitchen filled with the scent of warm brown sugar as these little discs of Christmas spirit baked. My husband stood over me as I removed these cookies from the oven, begging for a cookie much like my nephew would.
When you open your cookie jar, the scent of fresh orange invades your nose. The first bite is familiar like a buttery sugar cookie, then the tart cranberry hits your palate which is finished by the velvety surprise of creamed cheese.
I omitted a lot of sugar from the cheesecake filling for this recipe. The cookie base is sweet, and you want your friends to be surprised by the tangy jolt of cheesecake that oozes out of the center.
Be sure to keep your husband from eating too many, so your kids or nephews and nieces can have a few.
Cheesecake Stuffed Cranberry and Orange Cookies
Cookie Dough Ingredients:
- 1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of dried cranberries
- Zest from two oranges
- 2 tablespoons of juice from the oranges
For the filling:
- 4 ounces of creamed cheese, softened
- 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
- 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar
Cream the butter and sugars together with a mixer until fluffy. While that mixes, combine all of the dry ingredients into a bowl. Add to the creamed sugar and butter, the vanilla, orange zest, and juice. Once incorporated, slowly add in your dry mixture and egg yolks, alternating between the two.
You will finish the dough by mixing in the cranberries by hand.
Cover the dough and place it in the fridge to let it rest for at least two hours.
Note: Spreading of a cookie occurs when the fat (your butter) is not cold. You can reduce the amount of spreading by chilling the dough before cooking. Alternatively, if you like a thin more crisp cookie, then don’t worry about spreading and bake the cookies immediately. For this cookie you want to avoid as much spreading as possible to prevent the filling from escaping.
Next you will prepare the filling. In a small bowl combine the vanilla, creamed cheese, and powdered sugar. Mix by hand (I used a fork) until fully combined. Place in the fridge while your dough rests.
When the cookie dough is close to being chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough and filling from the fridge to begin forming the cookies. I take a bit shy of a tablespoon of dough, form a ball, then flatten it to a disc. Next take a teaspoon of filling and place it on the center of your dough disk. You will then take another disc of dough and place in on top of your filling, pressing the edges to seal the cookie dough. You should be able to fit about 5-6 finished dough balls on each cookie sheet.
Bake for about 10 minutes. Be sure to watch the cookies towards the end, and remove them once the edges start to brown.
Let cool and share with your loved ones!