Hallee wrote in to ask a question about the shippability of my Stuffed Red Velvet Cookies, which have a cream cheese-based center:
My husband is in Afghanistan. He always has red velvet cake for his birthday (his late mother started that tradition and then died right after his 8th birthday, so he's never wanted anything else.) I've been looking for a red velvet cake cookie to send him and found this. We LOVE using ground up oatmeal - I found a phenomenal waffle/pancake recipe using that method. But I'm wondering about shipping these. They'll take about 2 weeks to get to him. I seal-a-meal cookies for him. These look like they'd collapse under the pressure of the sealing. So, I would probably just put them in ziplock then in gladware. Most of the time, the container carrying the mail will be outside or in a cargo plane with no heating, and it's cold outside. So I wonder if that will be good enough?
Hi, Hallee. Thanks for writing in and for sharing your family's wonderful tradition of red velvet birthday cake. Knowing what a treat and connection to home these cookies would be for your husband, I really, really want to tell you that you'll be able to send these cookies to him. But, based on some research I did for an earlier query about shipping my cheesecake-stuffed Golden Girls Cookies, I'm afraid I can't say with certainty that they'd be safe to ship. Here's some food-safety info on cream cheese that I found for my earlier post:
The Food Safety and Inspection Service, a department within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, states that cream cheese (and, by extension, cream cheese-filled products) should be shipped refrigerated and kept cold. Check out the mail order food safety chart (cream cheese is about halfway down).
In addition, FoodSafety.gov's info for food safety during power outages states that you should discard any cheesecake that has been above 40º F for more than four hours.
I'd hate for your husband or any of his buddies to get sick from spoiled cream cheese. So, instead of stuffing the cookies with a cream cheese frosting, why not top them with a thick, nutty royal icing? Here's a quick recipe I adapted from the icing I used from my Margarita Cookies:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup toasted, finely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons water (or lemon juice)
1 tablespoon vanilla
You'll want a thick but not too-thick icing, so fee free to add water as needed until you get the desired consistency. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies and set aside for the icing to harden. (You can pop them in the fridge for a bit to speed this process up.) These iced versions should hold up fine for seal-a-mealing and shipping.
I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving this year. And that your husband stays safe and returns home soon for some good and proper red velvet cake!