The spring obsession with strawberries continues. As the season settles in, I look for other ways to enjoy the little red jewels, as I have almost eaten my fill of them plain from the bowl I keep in the fridge, filled every week at the famers market. And so I turn to baking to find as many ways to enjoy then as possible.
My first and best experience with fresh strawberries and cream was in England, where it is a tradition in many venues. I had them at the interval during a cricket match, a game I do not understand at all, but could really get into because they stop for snacks. Scones, tea and cucumber sandwiches were passed around at this picnic, then bowls of fresh berries, with a whisper of sugar and blanketed in cold, thick cream, tinged palest yellow it was so rich. I have never found the equal to English cream here. I think that is why so many rich, sweet desserts or fruits in England are preferred doused with plain cream – not whipped cream or ice cream, just a pour of fresh “double cream” as they call it.
That was my inspiration for these cookies. I wanted to create a cookie creamy and rich to envelope bursting bits of berry. Cream cheese gives that fluffy texture with a little bit of tang. Watch these cookies carefully and take them out of the oven just as they set on the top, then you will have a soft, moist cookie speckled with delicious bites of strawberry.
Strawberries and Cream Cookies
2 cups hulled fresh strawberries
1 cup (2 sticks butter), at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the strawberries into a small dice, roughly the size of a chocolate chip.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until combined. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour, 1 cup at a time, and the baking powder and salt. Beat until smooth and combined. Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the diced strawberries, distributing them evenly in the batter. The mixer will bash them up, so do this by hand.
Using a spoon or cookie scoop, scoop the batter by Tablespoons about a ½ inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets until the bottoms are lightly browned and the centers are just firmed up but not brown, about 10 – 12 minutes. If you have the patience, bake one sheet at a time on an upper rack in the oven. Cool the cookies for two minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Cool the cookie sheets and repeat with the remaining batter.
Makes about 3 dozen