I’ve been staring at my pantry these days looking for exactly anything other than what I have.
You do that too, right?
Sure there is a bounty in this home, a true wealth of nutrients but like…. where is the box of Entemann’s coffee cake that happens to be literally the only thing I want to eat right now? Where is that? Somewhere beyond the too many cans of baked beans?
It was on such a day, with such a craving, and without yeast to speak of that these cookies were born. A crisp and tender cookie bowl to hold sweetened cream cheese and raspberry jam comnbination. Sweet, creamy, fruit, bright, comforting – all the things the wash over a cheese danish craving like no other. I added a buttery crumble topping because… listen, I was already in deep and a crumble makes good things great.
This cookie dough can house any number of creativity and cravings. If you were to combine a nutella and sweetened peanut butter mixture, I’d absolutely shake your hand in support. Swap out the raspberry for apricot or strawberry preserves. Leave it out all together. Make these your own – that’s the invitation.
Now.. let’s get to it.
Here’s what you’ll need for these danish turned cookies:
• all-purpose + almond flour. I really love the moist nuttiness almond flour adds to these cookies. It helps create a soft and crumbly texture. If you’d like to make these cookies gluten-free, this recipe also works with a 1-for-1 gluten free flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill. I would add an egg to the recipe if you’re making it gluten-free to help with the binding. They’ll be a little more delicate but it still works!
• softened butter + granulated sugar that we’ll whip to light and fluffy to help aerate the cookies. We’re not using leavening in these cookies so the air we whip into the butter and sugar is important.
• salt + vanilla extract to balance the flavor of the cookies. Really simply, right?
• cream cheese + sugar +egg yolk + granulated sugar to make a rich cheese filling.
• raspberry jam to brighten up and compliment the cheese filling.
• an optional crumb topping to sprinkle over the cookie pre-bake: an easy mixture of flour, cinnamon, granulated sugar + butter. A little extra effort but gives these cookies that true danish quality.
We’ll make the cookie dough first.
Start by whisking together the dry ingredients. This might feel like one of those things you don’t want to dirty a bowl for but I’ll tell you – it helps to evenly incorporate the ingredients so you won’t over-mix the cookie dough to tough.
Have I talked you into it?
Cream the butter and sugar to fluffy. The mixture will move from grainy and dense to light, a bit more smooth and fluffy after 3 to 5 minutes on medium speed.
We’re not only combining two ingredients, we adding air to the cookie dough to help create a tender texture.
Add the dry ingredients to the batter and incorporate on low speed.
To ensure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, I usually stop the mixer and finish incorporating with a rubber spatula. There are always some dry bits at the bottom that need attention.
Place the soft sweet dough on a piece of parchment paper. Coerce into a disk. Wrap lightly and refrigerate while we make the cheese filling and maybe the crumble.
The trick to smooth cream cheese filling is very very room temperature cream cheese – not even a hint of chill on it.
I unwrap my room temperature cream cheese and often pop it in the microwave for ten seconds. I don’t want to take any chances because a cream cheese lump is one of the hardest lumps to get smooth. Am I wrong?
Whip in the egg yolk, sugar, flour, and teeny tiny splash of almond extract if you’re into that sort of thing.
The crumble is a sandy, buttery mixture worked together with a little bit of spice. Listen… I put crumble on just about everything. There’s always room for it!
Spoon two tablespoons of dough into your palm and roll into a smooth dough ball. Use your finger to make space in each dough ball, making each dough ball a little bowl. Just be careful not to press all the way through the dough to the pan.
Spoon a heaping teaspoon each of ream cheese filling and raspberry jam into each dough bowl.
Sprinkle generously with crumble topping. (Or don’t, maybe you skipped this step.)
The cookies won’t brown significantly in the oven – that’s totally ok! The bottoms will get a toasty golden but the tops may remain pale.
You’ll notice the cream cheese filling firms up and the jam may bubble a bit. Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for at least 10 minutes so they strengthen and hold their shape before transferring. As you might imagine, these are deeply satisfying for an afternoon snack with second coffee.
Photos with my friend Jon Melendez.
Raspberry Cheese Danish Thumbprint Cookies
- For the Cookies:
- 1 3/4 cup almond flour
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- For the Filling:
- 1/2 package (4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- Splash of almond extract
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup raspberry jam
- For the Crumble:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- To make the cookies, in a medium bowl whisk together almond flour, all-purpose flour, and sea salt.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or using an electric hand mixer in a large bowl beat together the softened butter and granulated sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and pale in color – 3 to 4 minutes.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing only to incorporate the dough and the dough will feel crumbly. Transfer the dough to a piece of plastic wrap or waxed paper, wrap into a disk and allow to rest in the refrigerator while you make the filling and crumble.
- To make the filling, in the bowl of the stand mixer (you don’t have to wash it), beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, almond extract, and flour until smooth.
- To make the crumble, in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and work it in with your fingers until coarse and resembles chunky sand.
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Portion each cookie into two tablespoon balls and place cookies 2-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press thumb into the center of each cookie creating a little bowl. Be sure not to press through the cookie to the bottom of the pan.
- Spoon in a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture and a dollop of raspberry jam. Generously sprinkle crumble topping on top of each jammed cookie.
- Bake for 15 to 16 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Rotate the sheets from top to bottom, front to back in the oven so that the cookies bake evenly.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack too cool before eating and storing. Cookies will last up to 5 days stored in an airtight container at in the refrigerator.