Easy Apple Butter and Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies to impress

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I know I said it last week, but it’s still true: I love autumn.  One of my favorite things about it is being able to warm up the house again with warmth and smells and tastes of the season.  I spend my summers waiting for the weather to cool down so I can bake without pushing the air conditioning into overload, and counting down until I can lounge about in flannel pants – they’re so soft and cozy!  As some of you can probably tell about my cooking, I’m all about cozy.

This week I’m bringing you food that warms the house and warms the heart.  Food is meant to bring people together, and that’s my favorite thing about cooking.  I love having dear ones around my table.  The first recipe I present to you is a great for reaching out, because who doesn’t love apple butter?  This recipe makes 2-3 cups, a great amount to divide among a few ball jars and share with a friend or neighbor. Or in my case, hoard all that goodness in a freezer to get you through to jam season.  This recipe admittedly takes a vast amount of time to make, but I love how hands-off it is, especially once you get it in the oven.  That’s right, apple butter that doesn’t mean slaving over a hot stove with a spoon.  I can’t beat that.  When it’s all said and done, try this stuff on pancakes. Yeah, you heard me.

 

Easy Apple Butter
This is everything I love about fall in a warm, gooey, aromatic pot.

Easy Apple Butter (from Food Network Magazine)  

  • 4 lbs. apples, any variety, chopped
  • 2 Cups apple cider
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  In an oven-safe pot or Dutch oven, stir together the apples, cider, and brown sugar.  Partially cover, and cook down for 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. At the end of 20 minutes, add the lemon juice, cinnamon, and vanilla, stir to combine.  In batches, ladel the hot mixture into a blender, and pulse until you have an applesauce consistency. (If you prefer applesauce over apple butter, here’s where you stop.)  Return blend back into the Dutch oven, and bake 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until thick and dark in color.  Makes 2-3 Cups

 

This next recipe has something of a funny story behind it.  When scanning over Twitter and Facebook updates, I have a tendency of skipping over letters and making the statement a bit more colorful.  In such a case, another food blogger (@aggieskitchen – she’s awesome, check her out) wrote a post about making cheese steak sandwiches.  However, with my reading habits, I thought she had said cheesecake sandwiches, which caught my attention more strongly.  Upon reading her blog I realized my blunder, although her sandwiches looked good.  I laughed and told her so, to which we agreed that cheesecake sandwich cookies needed to happen.  I came up with this recipe fairly quickly, but the occasion to make them took longer.  I started with Cake Mix Cut Outs, found a no-bake cheesecake recipe, and went from there.   I warn you now, these take a while to make, but the end result is quite a crowd pleaser.

Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies
They’re so small, you don’t notice when you’ve eaten a dozen.

Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 1 Box strawberry cake mix (any brand)
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

For the filling:

  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 C lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, butter, eggs, and vanilla, stir until you have cookie dough.  Dough will be very soft.  Refrigerate 1 hour.

While the dough chills, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Mix in the remaining ingredients until well combined.  Pop that in the fridge until further notice.

When an our is up, pull your dough, and roll out.  Cut into small shapes, the smaller the better, since you need more cookies to make sandwiches.  In my case, I used about a 2-inch circle.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

When all your cookies are baked and cooled, pull out that cheesecake mix.  Spoon the cheesecake mix into a piping bag, and squeeze a generous portion onto half of the cookies.  Top with the other half of the cookies, and put them all in a large resealable bowl.  Refridgerate an hour to give the cookies a lovely softness. Devour like our favorite blue guy on Sesame Street.

Tip of the week: If you don’t have a piping bag, no sweat.  Spoon your frosting (or manicotti filling, or in this blog, cheesecake mix) into a sandwich bag, leaving some room to squeeze.  Cut a tiny corner off the bottom of the bag, and go to town.

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