Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies

We are in one of my favorite times of the year.  Yes, it's the end of spring and summer is just around the corner.  While I've been enjoying this truly spring weather lately. that's not what I'm referring to.  It's strawberry season.  And did you know that May is national strawberry month?

I don't know about you, but strawberries are pretty much at the top of my list when it comes to berries and fruits.  I love them year around, but like all fruits and veggies, in season is definitely the best.  And, I'm beyond excited about this particular strawberry season.

Why?

Well, the past few years I've been trying to grow strawberries.  I've tried them in regular pots, a few different types of strawberry pots and even in the garden.  And well, nothing has worked.  We've had pretty green plants, but that's where it started and stopped.  No blooms, no flowers and definitely no red berries.
Last year the plants survived the winter and came back.  We even saw a few flowers.  Yay!  Then I saw it, one.  One berry and let me tell you, I was literally doing a happy dance in my back yard for that berry.  I watched it and checked on it everyday for at least a week.  It started cute, little and green then started growing and yes, even changing colors to red.  It was within days of being picked and I went out to check on it and finally pick it and when I saw it I was heartbroken.  A darn bird had pecked half of it away.  I was so mad and so upset.  Stinkin' birds.
Don't get my wrong, I love them, I even have several bird feeders I keep stocked up with birdseed in my back yard, but I was so mad at them after that.  The seed is for them, not my one berry that I had been waiting on for years.

Anywho, I got over it and decided to try my hand at it again this year.  Those few strawberry plants made it through the winter again and boy did they thrive this year.  I mean, they took over half the garden.  I saw a few blooms, then flowers but tried not to get overly excited since history hadn't proven successful.  But this was my year; those flowers bloomed, strawberries started growing and the birds were staying away.
This year was the year of the strawberry!  We've kept our eyes on them daily, picking several every-other-day and trying to keep the birds away.  The first bite of the strawberries straight from our garden were not only rewarding but delicious.  They are bright red, juicy and perfectly sweet!

We've eaten our share of fresh strawberries from the garden, but we've had more than enough for me to use in several different recipes!  I've made breads, dips, strawberry caprese chicken (recipe coming soon) and these cookies.

Now, a cheesecake topped with strawberries is a classic and truly hard to beat.  I love cheesecake.  Love strawberries.  And yes, I even love cookies.  That's a whole lotta love!  So, I decided to combine my loves and make strawberry cheesecake cookies.  Ah-mazing, right?
I made soft sugar cookies with the tiniest hint of lemon.  And these cookies are so good by themselves.  But, this is strawberry month and what's a strawberry cheesecake cookie without the strawberry and cheesecake?  So, I combined a light, fluffy and airy cream cheese mixture with diced strawberries, topped each cookie with a hefty scoop of said cream cheese mixture and then topped with a strawberry slice.  Viola.  Strawberry cheesecake cookies were born!

The cookies are perfectly soft, and subtly sweet making them the perfect palette for the cheesecake topping.  Whether you're craving cheesecake, have a plethora of berries to use, or just want to make some cookies, you need these in your life.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cookies
Ingredients:

For the cookies-
1 Stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup powdered sugar
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg yolk
1 Tsp vanilla
1/2 Tsp lemon juice
2 1/4 Cups flour
1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tsp baking powder

For the cheesecake topping-
4 Oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 Cup powdered sugar
1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 Cup diced strawberries

Strawberries for garnish, optional

Directions:

For the cookies-

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place butter in a large bowl and beat on high until creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add both sugars and beat and additional 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat and additional minute.  Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix until combined.

Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix until just incorporated.

Roll the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and form into a ball.  Place on prepared cookie sheet and gently flatten using the palm of your hand.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, until the bottom is beginning to turn golden, remove and allow to cool on sheet for 5 minutes.  Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

For the cheesecake topping-
Drain the strawberries on a kitchen or paper towel until ready to use.

Pour cream in a large bowl and beat on high until stiff peaks form.  Set aside.

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and beat on high until creamy.  Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined.  Add vanilla and mix to combine.  Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Fold the strawberries in the mixture.

Spoon on the cooled cookies.  Garnish with strawberry slices, if desired.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or store un-topped cookies in an airtight container and cheesecake topping in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Recipe source: cookies adapted from my Shirley Temple cookies
                         cheesecake topping, a Lynsey original

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