The barely-sweet casing for these cookies came together in a snap by mixing together a half block of softened cream cheese, a few tablespoons of butter, a single tablespoon of sugar, a splash of vanilla, salt and enough flour to transform those ingredients into a soft, cohesive dough. Because it is fairly soft after being beaten up in the mixer, you'll want to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or so, giving it time to firm up enough to work with. You can even do this a day ahead of time, but just know the dough will probably need to spend ten or fifteen minutes at room temperature to make rolling the dough out a bit easier.
As the dough was resting, unsweetened chocolate and butter were melted together in a small saucepan to begin the brownie filling. Use low heat here as you don't want to risk scorching the chocolate. As soon as those two were combined, the pan was taken off the heat, with granulated sugar whisked in, along with a few drops of vanilla and a pinch salt to keep the sweetness in check. Left to cool slightly, an egg yolk, flour and chopped dried cherries joined the party, forming the slick brownie batter. I made this right after putting the dough in the fridge as it has to be completely cool before adding it to the cream cheese cookie dough or a mess would ensue.
We're up to the assembly point now, where these cookies unfortunately becomes a bit tedious. Both sections of dough need to be rolled out into a large square, then pared down into smaller squares with a pastry wheel. If your kitchen runs on the warm side, like ours does, the dough may become a bit difficult to work with during assembly - if this happens, stop, take a deep breath and just slide it back into the refrigerator (or freezer) for a few minutes to firm it back up. You could also chill down your work surface by adding a few ice packs or a bag of ice before rolling it out - I did this when we were in Phoenix and it was too warm all the time!
On each two by two inch square, a scant half teaspoon (did I mention tedious - this is done 50 times...) of the brownie filling is added in the center, with two opposing corners folded over the mixture to form the "bowtie" shape. The measurement may seem small, but you also don't want to add too much - I ended up using every drop of the brownie mixture to fill all of the squares. Before being baked, the cookies are brushed with a light egg wash and sprinkled with extra sugar for good measure.
I suggest using coarse sugar for sparkle, but I had to use regular granulated... when I went to grab the small bucket I thought we had of it in the cabinet, I found the container void of all but a few crystals. Darn it! I should of known better the last time I used the sugar than to put the container away empty - that will teach me (probably not, but it sounds good)!
With less than a fourth cup of sugar stretched between fifty of these two-bite cookies, I wondered if they would have enough oomph or come across dull and bland, but surprisingly these little bundles were quite the opposite! I do think the rich brownie filling had a lot to do with that, especially those little nibbles of cherry that hit the spot. That's not to discount the cream cheese wrapper though as it was tender and buttery, with a pleasing crispness to the edges. I do have to say that I was a little disappointed that the sculpted sides from the fluted pastry wheel seemed to melt away in the oven. Not a big deal in the end (our pastry wheel may have not had a deep enough "flute" to it), but I think they would have looked better with those jagged edges.
Bowtie Brownie Cookies