A sandwich cookie will always beat out plainer sweets in my own personal cookie swap. (Two cookies? And something in the middle? All right! No contest.) So this time of year I'm not only trying out cookies, but fillings too. Here's a simple filling that uses up leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce, and looks festive. (Wouldn't it be great between two of Nora's cream cheese cookies?)
This recipe can barely be called a recipe; it's so simple. Just whisk cream cheese, butter, and sugar together with a little leftover cranberry sauce. Sauces will differ in texture and liquid consistency, of course, so you may need to adapt by adding a little more sugar or butter. But don't add too much sugar, as the sweetness can eventually overwhelm the taste of the cranberry sauce. Ultimately, this will be a looser filling than a pure cream cheese filling, but it sets well after an hour of refrigeration.
I just love the pink color, and the tanginess of the cranberries. So festive! Dollops of this filling are a great way to dress up plain sugar cookies, or to sandwich between two layers of a simple cake.
Cranberry Cream Cheese Cookie Filling
about 2 cups, to fill between 2 and 4 dozen cookies (depending on size)
One 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
2/3 cup chunky cranberry sauce, drained of excess liquid
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Whip the cream cheese and the butter with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer for about 5 minutes. The mixture should be quite fluffy and creamy. Add the cranberry sauce and whip until incorporated. Add 2 cups powdered sugar, the vanilla, and the salt. Whip until well-combined and test for texture. It will probably be quite loose, depending on how liquid your cranberry sauce was. Add more sugar until it is at the consistency you want. (Remember that this will firm up considerably in the refrigerator.)
Chill for an hour or more before using.
Note: If you want to be able to pipe the filling, puree the cranberry sauce until smooth before adding to the cream cheese.
Some suggested cookie recipes for use with this filling:
• Best Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
• Super-Simple Cream Cheese Cookies
Related: Recipe: Mini Molasses Cookies with Lemon Filling
(Images: Faith Durand)