No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

20170629_102444If you haven’t already noticed, this summer I am all about the no-bake desserts. With limited time available and no desire to make the A/C work any harder than it already is, no-bake desserts are a perfect option. Not only are these cherry cheesecake bars an easy summertime treat but they are also a great addition to your 4th of July picnic or party.

As with every dessert I make I try to make it as healthy as possible without the taste being noticeably off. These bars are no different. Instead of a traditional graham cracker crust made with fattening butter, this crust is made with olive oil containing heart healthy fats and omega-3 rich walnuts. The walnuts add a touch of extra flavor to the crust to make up for the loss of richness when butter is cut from the equation. To keep saturated fat in check in the filling, regular cream cheese is swapped out for a blend of reduced-fat cream cheese and nonfat Greek yogurt. You can even make these bars gluten-free if you make the simple exchange of gluten-free graham crackers for regular.

20170629_102431Whether you want to pass a delicious dessert at an Independence Day themed picnic/party or simply desire an easy, no bake summer dessert for your family, these no-bake cherry cheesecake bars are sure to never disappoint!

No-Bake Cherry Cheesecake Bars

 

Ingredients:

  • Half of a 14 oz. box of Graham Crackers; preferably whole-wheat
  • ½ cup chopped Walnuts; toasted
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 1/3 cup light Olive Oil
  • 2 (8 oz.) pkg. Reduced-Fat Cream Cheese (Neufchatel); softened
  • 2 cups Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 6 tbsp. Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cans Cherry Pie Filling (you may not need all of the 2nd can)

 

Preparation:

  1. Process graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Drizzle with the oil and stir to combine. Press into the bottom of a 13-x-9 inch baking dish.
  2. Beat cream cheese, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread evenly over the crust. Spoon the cherry topping over the filling until no filling shows through the topping. Cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: CAROLYN MALCOUN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

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Easy Cherry-Almond Crisp

20170529_174601June has only just begun and temperatures here in Central Florida have already been averaging in the mid-90’s (heat index well over 100°) since early May. I enjoy the heat but it makes going outside with the kids for walks or playtime practically impossible unless it is really early or late (but late in the swamp only trades heat for mosquitoes). Seeing as outside play is limited this time of year, other activities need to fill the void. Baking happens to be one of our favorite go-to activities year round but even more so in the hot and rainy summer months.

With the A/C already working overtime to keep us cool I want a recipe that is not too extensive but also screams summer for the days we stay cooped up indoors. Along with cobblers and pies, one of the quintessential desserts served in the summer is a crisp. A crisp is quick, easy, and makes the most out of in season fresh fruit. Sweet cherries are a favorite of mine and happen to currently be in season, making them easily accessible at supermarkets. If you happen to stumble across this recipe when sweet cherries are not in season, you can easily use frozen sweet cherries with the added bonus that they will already be pitted for you.

cherryalmondcrisp1Although I love sweet cherries on their own, I prefer a balance of tart and sweet flavors in a crisp. For example, when I make apple crisp, I always use a blend of sweet and tart apples. I chose to replicate the same process by using tart dried cherries in addition to fresh sweet cherries. Before burying the cherries under a blend of oats and almonds I add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla to further enhance the flavor.

I prefer to serve this dessert warm and with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (or ice cream), however it is just as enjoyable at room temperature or after a quick warm up in the microwave. I mean, what is not to love about a simple recipe that takes fresh in season fruit, tosses it together with some pantry staples, and bakes into a summertime stunner beckoning for a scoop of ice cream!

Note: To keep this dessert super simple, use frozen pitted cherries if you do not want to pit them yourself. If you elect to use fresh cherries (recommended) and you do not own a cherry pitter, you can pit the cherries with a straw or pastry tip. Simply insert the straw or pastry tip into the stem end of the cherry and push it through until the pit pops out on its on. This recipe yields one 8 x 8 inch baking dish of crisp. You can easily double the recipe ingredients and bake the crisp in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish to accommodate larger families/crowds.

Easy Cherry-Almond Crisp

 

Filling Ingredients:

  • ½ cup dried Tart Cherries
  • ½ cup Boiling Water
  • 1 pound fresh (or frozen) Sweet Cherries; pitted
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:

  • 3.4 oz. (¾ cup) All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Sliced Almonds
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
  • ¼ tsp. Almond Extract

 

Preparation:

  1. Combine dried cherries and boiling water in a small bowl (or pan you boiled the water in); cover and let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 8 x 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl combine the dried cherries (including the soaking liquid), pitted sweet cherries, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon; stir well. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
  5. Meanwhile, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, almonds, and salt in a medium bowl; stir well. Combine butter and almond extract in a small bowl. Drizzle butter mixture over oat mixture, stirring until moist clumps form.
  6. Remove cherry mixture from oven and sprinkle evenly with streusel topping (you may have extra topping). Bake an additional 20 minutes or until streusel is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm on its own or with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt/ice cream.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: JEANNE KELLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Cherry Chocolate Chip Scones

20170308_180314When you’re an avid baker like myself, you often end up with a lot of random leftover ingredients that you have no idea what to do with. Instead of letting them go to waste I often try to come up with a way to use these ingredients up in a new recipe. This was the case with a package of dried cherries that were sitting in the pantry since I made my Skinny Chocolate-Cherry Oatmeal Cookies.

After experiencing the delicious combination of chocolate and cherries in my chocolate-cherry oatmeal cookies, I decided to implement the same flavor combination in a new product. In my search for new recipes I came across a popular morning delight…the scone. Scones are like having a thick cookie for breakfast so they would naturally be able to handle the same combination that the oatmeal cookies did. However, since I am not one for an involved breakfast, grating the butter to get the perfect scone was not my cup of tea (no matter how great it would taste with a cup of tea!).

20170308_180135In my quest for a delicious scone in a fraction of the time I looked to make this quick bread a bit quicker. I am typically against using convenience products but sometimes getting stressed out and ruining your entire day is not much healthier. Therefore it’s beneficial to utilize them sparingly. Low-fat baking mix (such as heart-smart Bisquick) provided the answer to a less fussy scone that could be prepared in half the time. With the addition of mini semisweet chocolate chips and dried cherries the amount of sugar found in a traditional scone was reduced dramatically, allowing for more calories to be spared. Also by swapping half-and-half for traditional heavy cream the resulting scones were less offensive to health conscious waistlines.

20170308_180334With modifications to traditional recipes, I was able to shave calories down to 205 compared to over 250 per scone. The fat also dramatically reduced from 11 grams to 4.8 per scone. Overall, I highly recommend you try these tender, lightly sweetened scones that are a quick compliment to a morning cup of coffee or afternoon snack with tea!

Cherry Chocolate Chip Scones

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Dried Cherries; chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • 3 cups Low-Fat Baking Mix (such as Heart-Smart Bisquick)
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. Butter; chilled & cut into very small pieces
  • 2/3 cup Fat-Free Half-and-Half
  • 2 tbsp. Semisweet Chocolate Minichips
  • 1 large Egg; separated
  • 1 tbsp. Fat-Free Half-and-Half
  • Turbinado Cane Sugar; optional

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
  2. Combine cherries and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds. Cool 10 minutes (do not drain).
  3. Combine baking mix, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cherries, 2/3 cup half-and-half, chocolate chips, and egg white. Stir until just moistened. Drop dough by ¼ cupfuls onto prepared baking sheet. Place baking sheet in freezer for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine egg yolk and 1 tbsp. half-and-half. Brush egg mixture over tops of each scone and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Best served warm.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MARIE RIZZIO
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2017

Skinny Chocolate-Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

20160323_175154Oatmeal cookies have always held a special place in my heart. I remember when I was young, my family used to go to the local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings to get fresh picked sweet corn and other produce. I would always beg to get the flavored honey sticks and a bag of oatmeal raisin cookies from the bakery vendor. This made waking up early on a day I didn’t have school worth it. As an adult, I still love oatmeal raisin cookies but I also know how unhealthy they can be. I already have a skinny recipe for oatmeal raisin cookies so I was looking for a different type of oatmeal based cookie to try.

20160323_175304These chocolate-cherry oatmeal cookies are not only a tasty, healthier alternative but they also pack three essential foods that can help save your heart from disease. Heart disease runs in my family on both sides and so it is imperative that I take the issue seriously. Any foods that can help decrease my chances of heart disease are something I am willing to try. Put them into cookie form and then how can I resist. Obviously I am not saying you need to eat only these cookies and you will stave off heart disease, but if you want a sensible splurge these are a wise option.

20160323_175145-1The three main ingredients in these cookies (oatmeal, cherries, and dark chocolate) each have properties that promote heart health. Oatmeal helps keep you feeling full longer, stabilizes blood sugar levels, and lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol. By replacing the majority of flour in this recipe with oats increases the potential heart healthy benefits. Cherries, whether fresh or dried, are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are responsible for protecting blood vessels. Lastly, is flavanol-rich dark chocolate, which provides antioxidant qualities along with the ability to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and decrease the stickiness of platelets that cause clots.

With all of the heart healthy benefits these cookies provide one would assume they do not taste very good but in fact they are spectacular. Chewy and full of flavor, you will forget these cookies are a skinny option compared to your favorite childhood oatmeal raisin cookie!

Skinny Chocolate-Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1.5 oz. Whole-Wheat Flour
  • 1 ½ cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 6 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
  • ¾ cup Light Brown Sugar; packed
  • ¾ cup Dried Cherries
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg; lightly beaten
  • 3 oz. Dark Chocolate Baking Chips (such as Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
  • Cooking Spray

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Add flours, oats, baking soda, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl melt the butter, approximately 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar to the melted butter and stir until smooth. Add the sugar mixture to the flour mixture. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the mixture on medium speed until well blended. Add the vanilla and egg, beating until combined. Fold in the cherries and chocolate.
  4. Drop cookie dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes or until almost firm. Remove cookies from the cookie sheets and allow to cool completely on wire racks.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

(1 Cookie)

Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookie NutritionLabel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weight Watchers: 4 Smart Points, 2 Points Plus, or 2 Traditional Points

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: MARCIE DIXON
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

 

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2016

Skinny Cherry-Walnut Streusel Cake

1Clean eating has been a strict motto of mine over the past year. It was a harsh transition at first but extremely satisfying when you can know exactly what is in your food. I have switched to buying all organic and extremely limiting my processed food intake. This lifestyle change has not only made me feel better about myself but has also made me feel like I am doing the best I can to keep my family healthy. With the many changes I have undertaken over the past year, perhaps the most daunting was becoming an independent Beachbody coach. At first I signed on only to get a discount on my monthly Shakeology, but I have recently really enjoyed helping others learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle. After speaking with several individuals who asked me about my recent successes, the one area they have difficulty with is giving up their dessert. These individuals want to lead a healthier lifestyle but they also want a treat now and then, especially for their children. They asked me for advice on healthier alternatives to popular box mixes or supermarket sweets. At first I did not have an answer for them. I have been a pastry chef for the website Honeybees Patisserie for over five years, however the job description never required me to acknowledge the healthiness of the products.

With little knowledge of healthier desserts, I elected to do heavy research and today I present you with a skinnier cake option. I use the term “skinny” because it is certainly not healthy to eat this product all of the time as you would a healthy meal. A skinny dessert is simply a healthier indulgence and should be strictly an occasional indulgence. This cherry-walnut streusel cake is designed to include healthier, organic ingredients and to keep you satisfied longer. I originally made this recipe after purchasing a fresh bunch of sweet Bing cherries from my local farmer’s market. It is best to make this cake when cherries are in season between May and July but if you want to prepare it outside of the cherry season you may use frozen cherries instead of fresh. If you do elect to use frozen cherries, be sure that you thaw them and drain any juice before measuring. I recommend selecting Bing or Rainier cherries as their flavor will concentrate while baking and help keep this hearty, coffee style cake moist.

2By now you are probably wondering how this cake is lighter than any other recipe out there. Two elements of this streusel cake differ greatly from its traditional counterpart….the lack of butter and the blend of flours. Streusels are traditionally made with a good amount of butter. The missing butter in the streusel is replaced with olive oil and a small amount of reduced-fat buttermilk, allowing more butter to remain in the cake without significantly adding calories or fat. Aside from the reduced amount of butter, half of the traditional all-purpose flour is replaced with whole-wheat pastry flour. Whole-wheat pastry flour is more nutrient dense than all-purpose flour and specifically contains more protein than cake flour. By replacing half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour, the cake has added nutrients to keep you fuller longer (preventing the risk of overindulging) without becoming too dense as would be the case if you used only whole-wheat flour.

3This cake is a great option for treating you and your family to dessert without completely abandoning a healthy lifestyle. It can also be a great addition at breakfast when served with coffee or tea. One cake will yield 10 servings. Each serving should be cut into a small wedge. Total preparation time for this cake is approximately 1 ½ hours. If you are following Weight Watchers, one wedge is 5 points or 7 Points Plus.

Skinny Cherry-Walnut Streusel Cake

Streusel Ingredients:

  • ½ cup Granulated Sugar
  • 6 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tbsp. Old-Fashioned Oats
  • 3 tbsp. Walnuts; chopped
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Reduced-Fat Buttermilk

Cake Ingredients:

  • 4.5 ounces All-Purpose Flour (approximately 1 cup)
  • 4.5 ounces Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour (approximately 1 cup)
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¾ cup Granulated Sugar
  • ¼ Unsalted Butter; softened
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ tsp. Almond Extract
  • ½ cup Reduced-Fat Buttermilk
  • 10 oz. Fresh Sweet Cherries; pitted & chopped (approximately 2 cups)

Formula:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare streusel by combining sugar, flour, oats, walnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Add the oil and buttermilk and stir to combine. Set the streusel aside.
  2. Prepare the cake by whisking both flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the sugar and butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat again until combined. Mix in the almond extract until just combined. Add a portion of the flour mixture and beat until combined. Add half of the buttermilk and mix again. Add another portion of the flour mixture beating until combined followed by the rest of the buttermilk. Add the remaining portion of the flour and beat until well combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently stir in the cherries by hand.
  3. Spoon the batter evenly into a 9 inch springform pan coated with nonstick baking spray. Sprinkle batter evenly with the streusel. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and continue to cool on the wire rack or serve warm.

Nutritional Information

(One wedge)

cherrystreuselcake

Weight Watchers: 5 Points or 7 Points Plus

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: IVY MANNING
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2015

Spumoni Cookies

DSC_0323Like many, I feel completely exhausted after the holidays. I love the winter holiday season but it truly does know how to wipe a person out. I feel like ever since Halloween in October it has been non-stop craziness preparing for whatever festivity comes next. If the typical holidays are not enough, the addition of my daughter now fills January with two more celebrations I never had to plan for before. January 17th is my daughter’s name day and January 24th is her birthday. For those that do not know, a name day is a Greek tradition of celebrating the name of the Christian saint you are named after on that saint’s feast day. So now that all of those celebrations have since passed, I finally feel some ease until Easter but it has left me extremely fatigued. It is so bad I hardly feel like doing anything each day, but of course we all know that is not possible with a 2 year old and 100 pounds of med school homework.

DSC_0318Since my energy has been sapped as of late it has really took its toll on my baking hobby. When I do manage to summon enough energy to cook outside of making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my family it needs to be something that isn’t too strenuous. I always used to be against taking baking shortcuts but now that I am a mom and full-time student, any shortcut I can find that still tastes good is acceptable. I even recall as a teen trashing my grandfather’s shortcut cookie recipe that he made with a boxed cake mix. After they were made he had me try one. They were of course delicious and it was then he told me something that has stuck to this day. He said, “As long as you know you can make it from scratch and have it taste good, it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut every once and awhile.” This has been my motto as of late. I know I can make great cookies from scratch and have done so since I was old enough to see over the kitchen counter, so it doesn’t hurt to take a shortcut when I need one. This recipe is one of those shortcuts.

DSC_0322The reason this recipe is considered a short cut is because it uses store bought sugar cookie dough. If you are completely against the idea of anything store bought, you can make your own batch of sugar cookie dough as I have also done when I have more time and energy, just be sure your sugar cookie recipe produces about 2 pounds of dough. I prefer to take the shortcut method with these cookies though because they are rather involved compared to others already and making your own sugar cookie dough will make the process that much longer. I know anyone with a busy lifestyle will surely appreciate this shortcut method that not only takes less time but is also a special, elegant looking cookie.

DSC_0315What makes these cookies so impressive are the three different layers of color and flavor. This is the spumoni influence on the cookie. Spumoni originates in Italy and is traditionally found as ice cream. Spumoni is relative to Neapolitan, with three flavors, traditionally being chocolate, pistachio, and cherry. I do not care for pistachios so I altered the traditional make-up and used walnuts instead. You can certainly swap out an equal amount of pistachios for the walnuts in this recipe. Even though Spumoni has pretty much disappeared in Italy, it is still much loved in the U.S. with good reason. Give them a try and have a taste of forgotten Italy.

Note: These cookies use three separate doughs merged into one to make the tri-colored appearance. I roll the dough into ropes, place them alongside each other, and roll flat with a rolling pin to merge the dough. You can also roll out each dough ball into equal length and thickness then stack the dough on top of each other and slice with a sharp knife to get a similar effect. Whichever method you choose, be sure to chill the dough slightly to make it easier to get uniform cookies. This recipe produces approximately 3 dozen cookies.

 

Spumoni Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 (16 oz.) tubes Refrigerated Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 12 Maraschino Cherries; drained, stemmed, & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Walnuts; toasted & chopped fine
  • ¼ cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips; melted & slightly cooled
  • Red & Green Food Coloring

 Formula:

  1. Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, approximately 1 hour. Place both tubes of cookie dough into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add ¾ cup of flour and mix on low until combined. Separate dough into three equal portions and place one portion back into the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the remaining ¼ cup of flour to the dough portion in the mixer bowl. Mix until just incorporated. Add 5 drops of red food coloring and chopped cherries to the dough. Mix until well combined. Shape the dough into a ball and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the same mixing bowl and place back on the stand mixer. Add the second portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add 5 drops of green food coloring and the chopped walnuts. Mix until well combined. Shape dough into a ball and set aside.
  3. Wipe out the same mixing bowl one last time and place back on the stand mixer. Add the final portion of dough to the mixer bowl. Add the melted chocolate to the dough and mix until well combined. Shape dough into ball. Wrap all three dough portions in plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Divide each chilled dough portion in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough half into a 12 inch rope. Place 1 rope of each color side by side on the floured surface and gently press together. Refrigerate ropes until slightly firm, approximately 10 minutes. Remove chilled ropes from refrigerator and on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten the cookies and merge the dough ropes together. Once rolled, use a knife to cut 1 inch wide cookies. Place cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Repeat until all dough is used and refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Bake chilled cookies until set but not browned, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Be sure to rotate baking sheets halfway through cooking time for even baking. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for approximately 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored for approximately 1 week.

 

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: DONNA BARDOCZ
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2015

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

DSC_0373Christmas is quickly approaching and you know what that means… Cookie season!!! Holiday dessert tables always have cookies and are adorned year after year with the traditional family favorites. These favorites typically include sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and anything peppermint infused. I love all of these but sometimes you just want something fresh and new to try. That is why each year alongside the traditional cookies, I always make sure that I add one new cookie to the platter that everyone can try to enjoy alongside the usual favorites.

DSC_0383

It is from that tradition that I created my annual dedication to diverse holiday cookie options in the month of December. For the next few weeks you will be seeing many posts on cookies that I find can be a great addition to any holiday dessert table. I started this year with Cherry Cheesecake cookies. These cookies have been sweeping the social media airwaves as of late but I actually came across this cookie back in 2010 and fell in love. Cherry cheesecake was always a favorite of mine as a kid and melding those flavors into the portable ease of a cookie is heavenly.

DSC_0385

I like to make the cookie dough ahead of time not only to save precious time for baking other things but also because these cookies do not have a very long lifespan after they have been baked. It is best to make them the day they are going to be devoured because the cream cheese filling causes them to spoil at an accelerated rate. Also the extended chilling time will make it much easier to shape and roll the dough balls in the graham cracker crumbs.

DSC_0387

The formula I use makes about 2 dozen cookies and is enough for my family at the holidays, but if you have a larger family you can certainly double the recipe. Once the cookies have been baked be sure to store them in an airtight container for no more than 2 days.

DSC_0371

Cherry Cheesecake Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1¾ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 (8 oz.) Pkg. Cream Cheese; softened
  • 10 tbsp. (1 ¼ sticks) Unsalted Butter; softened
  • ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 1 (20 oz.) can Cherry Pie Filling

Formula:

  1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and sugar together on medium-high speed until the texture becomes smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix the dough together until it is incorporated. Do not overmix. Refrigerate the dough overnight.
  2. Heat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the graham cracker crumbs in a small bowl. Place the cherry pie filling in a shallow dish. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and then roll in the graham cracker crumbs. Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a tablespoon to make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.
  3. Use a small spoon to place 3 cherries in the indented center of each cookie. Be sure to strain off as much of the filling/juice to ensure the cherries do not end up swimming in a cherry bath and creating a soggy-centered cookie. Bake the cookies until golden around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time to ensure even cooking.
  4. Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

DSC_0347

SPECIAL THANKS TO:

 

PETER MENDOROS – PHOTOGRAPHY  & STAGING

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM STEPHANIE MATTHEWS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEE’S PATISSERIE 2013