This is definitely the tale of two cookies. It all started when I decided I needed to make some type of jam-filled thumbprint cookies - they scream holiday to me. I've baked plenty of thumbprints in the past though, so I looked for something slightly different I could take on this year. After flipping through some holiday baking magazines, I kept coming back to jam-filled cream cheese cookies from Martha Stewart. The simple cream cheese dough is rolled out and cut into star shapes. Jam is placed in the center and then the points of the star are folded in and pressed together. The cookies looked like little Christmas ornaments to me (photo here), they were perfect! In theory, anyway. In reality, I found it nearly impossible to glue the points of the star into the center successfully. The cookies were popping open even before I got them into the oven, which certainly didn't bode well for their time in the oven. Only 1 or 2 of them came out of the oven still sealed, and they definitely weren't as pretty as I'd hoped (photo of mine here, if you're interested). That said, they were tasty, and since I still had half of the dough in the fridge, I wanted to figure out a way to make something work.
Enter cookie number two. I'd seen a bowtie cookie in an issue of Fine Cooking that I thought might be doable. The Fine Cooking dough was similar to Martha's dough in that both were cream cheese based and both recipes called for fruit preserve filling. The Fine Cooking cookies seemed much easier to assemble too. All you had to do was cut squares from the dough, top with preserves, then bring two opposing corners to the center and press them together. I got to work with my leftover dough, and fortunately, the cookies turned out exactly as I'd hoped. They remained sealed in the oven and looked great with a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I hate throwing things away, so I was thrilled to find a use for my leftover dough. The dough itself isn't very sweet and the flavor isn't too assertive, which allows the flavor of the filling to really shine through. Next time I make these I may try the Fine Cooking dough just to see how it compares.
Bowtie Cookies with Apricot and Raspberry Preserves
adapted from Fine Cooking and Martha Stewart
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg, beaten (for egg wash)
apricot and raspberry preserves (really, any flavor you like would work)
confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and salt, mixing just until combined.
Divide the dough into thirds and shape into squares. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line three cookie sheets with parchment. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator and working on a lightly floured surface roll it into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. Using a 2-inch square cutter, cut as many squares from the dough as possible. Reroll the scraps and repeat. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon of the preserves onto the center of each square. Brush one corner of the square with the egg wash. Bring the opposite corner to the center then fold the corner with the egg wash over it, pinching them firmly together to seal. Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until golden and just slightly puffed, about 18 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely then dust with confectioners' sugar if desired.