Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cheesecake filled Thumbprints

I've written about The Cake Shop in the Lower East Side before, when I sampled their vegan cupcakes. I've been patronizing the place with increased frequency over the past few months, and incidentally, it is a little too adorable, I think, to be writing a blog post for your dessert blog in a place with this name (while, yes, eating a cupcake). Though now I suppose I'm one of those irritating 20-somethings who blogs in a coffee shop (although The Cake Shop is much more than that: it's a performance space, a record store, a bar, a vegan eatery...).

Anyway, to the point: I have quite a thing for thumbprint cookies. What I love most about them is how adaptable they are: there is a seemingly endless list variations and, thus, ways to get creative. I've made peanut butter and jelly thumbprints, brownie thumbprints, lemon thumbprints. There are date fillings and pecan topped and the standard jelly-filled butter cookie types. At my house growing up, we always had the jelly-filled type, which I've since come to regard as the “classic” thumbprint, and it wasn't until later in my baking career (and recipe research) did I see that versatility is this cookie's best quality.

This is why I was so excited to see, in Martha Stewart's Cookies, a new twist that had never occurred to me: Cheesecake Thumbprints. Now that I've seen it from Martha, it seems like such an obvious idea. The cheesecake flavor pairs well with so many other forms of desserts (like brownies and ice cream), so why not put it into a thumbprint? When I read through this recipe, it seemed pretty basic, but I made a couple of changes to the ingredients for the filling, only because I have a bit of a love for different sorts of cheeses, and pairing them together with other foods. Once, in New York, I had a spectacular cone of gelato: Marscapone flavored. Because this particular cheese works so well when used in desserts, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try it in place of the cream cheese. It certainly made for an amazing cheesecake filling with a mild taste. However, I found the filling to be slightly overshadowed by the buttery strength of the base cookies. When I make these in the future, I'll be sure to roll the cookies smaller and attempt to make larger wells.

Still, though, these are a very delicious and novel cookie, which I found satisfying enough after enjoying only one.

Cheesecake Thumbprints

Yield: About 3 dozen


8 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1/8 plus ¼ teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks

1 ½ teapsoon sour cream

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 cups all-purpose flour


1. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy for about three minutes. Beat in ¼ cup sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt until smooth. Mix in one egg yolk, sour cream and vanilla. Cover and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, ½ cup sugar and ¼ tsp. salt until creamy and combined. Mix in the last egg yolk until well-incorporated. Gradually add flour and mix until combined.

4. Scoop out level tablespoons worth of the dough and roll into balls. Place balls onto parchment-lined or greased baking sheets. Using the handle end of a thick wooden spoon, or your finger, make an indentation in the center of each ball.

5. Place into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully use your thumb (or the end of the same wooden spoon) to press the middle of the cookies, remaking the indentations. Place cookies back into the oven, rotating them from their original position, and continue to bake until slightly golden around the edges, about 7 minutes.

6. Remove cookies from the oven and fill the indentations with the cheesecake filling. Place back into the oven and bake for about 8 more minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cook completely. When cool, place cookies into the refrigerator to chill before serving.

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