Tag Archives: academy awards

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIt’s a tradition of mine to make a red velvet treat for Oscar Night, which happens to be this Sunday. It’s sort of my “thing.” Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsYes, I know the Oscars are silly, but I, too, am silly. Also, I love a theme, especially when it means I get to watch 15 or 20 movies, cheer/curse/cry at my TV and eat red velvet baked goods. There was once a whole meal I made only for this occasion, but over the years it’s been reduced down to a “red velvet something.” This is what restraint looks like for me.

As far as the red velvet something goes, it could be the classic cake or cookies or a cookie cake—it’s just got to have that perfect mix of chocolate and vanilla flavors, preferably have a cream cheese element, and be an astonishing shade of crimson. Or, as I like to explain it, it has to be red like the red carpet.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThis year’s treat? Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints. They’re exactly what they sound like—red velvet cookies with little wells of cheesecake baked into their centers—and they are also as delicious as you’d expect. Chocolate, vanilla and tangy cheesecake are a match made in heaven. And also my kitchen. And soon, yours.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe base for these cookies is a slight variation on my Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookie dough; as with my sugar cookie-based thumbprints, the “variation” is a reduction of baking powder. The dough is mixed ahead of time and chilled before being scooped, formed into balls, and rolled in sugar for both texture and sparkle.

I mean, I guess you could skip the roll in sugar if you want, but you’d be missing out on a crisp sugar crust/sugar cookie/squidgy cheesecake textural experience *and* sparkle. Sparkle is very important on Oscar Night.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsNext come the thumbprints or, if you want to keep things transparent, spoon-prints. Each sugar-crusted dough ball is indented with the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon measure. You could, of course, do this with your thumb, but a spoon is a more accurate (and less messy) tool for the job.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe cookies are baked at a fairly low temperature (300F for ten minutes) before the thumbprints are deepened and widened with the back of a 1 teaspoon measure. Oh, and filled with cheesecake ♥️Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsAfter ten more minutes in the oven, the cookies will be set and the cheesecake will be a little puffy. Let them cool to room temperature—the centers will deflate a bit—before chilling for at least 45 minutes. You want those little wells of cheesecake to be nice and cold when you’re snacking on them mid-Oscar broadcast.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIf you don’t have traditions and superstitions (and an entire friendship) based around an awards show, you can make these Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints for Valentine’s Day. They’re the right color *and* they’re full of cheesecake. Nothing says love like cheesecake.Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Cheesecake Filling:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Rolling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Make the cheesecake filling. In a small mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg yolk and vanilla. Transfer to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag). Set aside.

Place rolling sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just carefully press/pinch big cracks back together with your fingers.

Bake cookies 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully press the back of a rounded 1 teaspoon measuring spoon into the centers again. Pipe cheesecake filling into each well. Carefully tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to release large air bubbles. Bake cookies another 10 minutes, until cheesecake is set and a bit puffed.

Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Cheesecake will deflate a bit. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Refrigerate cookies for at least 45 minutes, until chilled, before serving. Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesThe Oscars are this weekend!

In case you don’t know, the Academy Awards broadcast is my personal Super Bowl. I can’t remember ever missing it, even when I was a little girl. I didn’t realize that there were people who didn’t watch the Oscars until well into adulthood. I’d love to be higher-brow about the whole thing, but I’m too far gone now. Instead of fighting this sort of commercial silliness, I fully embrace it for this one event.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know I have lots of traditions around Hollywood’s biggest night. I see every nominated film. I spend hours (and hours and hours) consulting with Tad, my best friend/Oscar buddy of 15 years. I have been known to make homemade books of statistics.*

*I never claimed to be normal.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Oscar Day is a thing unto itself, of course. I obviously watch every second of coverage, and no, I won’t come to your viewing party because I tend to get a little too invested and it’s not always attractive. Maturity goes out the window when it comes to the Oscars—it’s best that I watch them alone.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

It won’t surprise you to learn that I have a traditional Oscar meal: a pesto/mozzarella grilled cheese and a salad with lots of citrus and red onion. For dessert, it’s always something red velvet. For years, it was a Red Velvet Cake, but I’ve changed it up recently, mostly because it’s silly to have an entire cake around when I’m by my lonesome. Two years ago, I made some festive cut-out cookies; last year’s dessert was a star-studded cookie cake. I’m keeping it simple this time around—Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies, y’all!Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

These sweet little cookies are a combination of two old favorites. The red velvet cookie base is from my third blog post ever! It produces soft, chewy cookies with all the classic chocolate-vanilla flavor you expect in a quality red velvet baked good.Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

The other old favorite is my Cream Cheese Frosting—you can’t have red velvet without cream cheese frosting! Mine has twice the butter found in most recipes, so it’s got a fluffy texture as opposed to the thinner texture you see in more traditional recipes.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies are dead-easy to make. Bake some cookies, whip some frosting, sandwich everything together. Really, the hardest part of this whole recipe is not eating seven cookies in a row.Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Have a great weekend, y’all! May all your Oscar predictions come true ❤ Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies
makes about 5 dozen

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1/4 cup buttermilk powder*
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk powder, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. One at a time, add in eggs, whisking until completely combined. Add in vanilla extract, followed by red food coloring. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheets.

Scoop chilled dough in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) increments and roll into balls. Set dough balls two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-8 minutes, just until the tops are no longer raw-looking. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Continue rolling and baking with any remaining dough. Let baking sheets come to room temperature between batches.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until completely combined. Beat in vanilla. Once combined, beat on high for two additional minutes, until light and fluffy.

There are two options for filling:

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to four days.

Note:

I find buttermilk powder in the baking aisle of my regular grocery store. The recipe will also work with regular nonfat milk powder.

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Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesIt’s the most wonderful time of the year…for me, at least. The 89th Annual Academy Awards are happening this Sunday. I look forward to them all year long.

Yes, I know that awards shows are silly, but I don’t care. I have always loved movies, even going so far as to go to film school. My life and career ended up going in a totally different direction, but my love of cinema has remained. I’ve seen the major nominees, I have my opinions and my books of statistics,* and come Sunday night, I’ll be parked in front of the TV, happy as a clam.

*Yes, I have homemade books of Oscar statistics. Don’t you?!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesNow, I have a lot of Oscar Sunday traditions. For one, I don’t watch them with anyone. I get pretty riled up, so I feel like it’s best that I watch alone. The only person with whom I really interact is my best friend, Tad. We met at a failed screening of Shrek 2 twelve years ago, realized that we were the only two people on our college campus who took the Oscars seriously, and have been talking about them ever since. He lives in San Francisco, so we can’t watch together, but we text back and forth all night.

My other big tradition? Red Velvet Cake. I posted my recipe (and my best-ever Cream Cheese Frosting) on here last Oscar weekend. I just love the chocolate-vanilla flavor of Red Velvet Cake, and it’s perfect for Oscar night because it’s red like the red carpet! It’s a little silly for me to make a whole layer cake for a night I am planning to spend by myself, so I’m changing it up this year and celebrating with these Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesThese cookies are a twist on my favorite Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies. They’re souped up with cocoa powder in place of some of the flour, a touch of vinegar, and an extra egg yolk to keep them just a little bit soft. As far as the color goes, I reach for gel food coloring. I do not recommend using liquid red food coloring in this recipe as it will change the chemical makeup of the cookies, making them spread or become cakey, or both. Yuck. Red gel food coloring can be found at Target, craft stores, and your local kitchen supply.

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesThe cookie dough is easy to roll and cut, and the cookies won’t spread as they bake. That’s right–once your cookies are cut into cute shapes and placed in the oven, you won’t have to worry about them warping. It’s the dream. I love that my little Oscars (made with a mummy cutter and some strips of dough) actually look like their namesake statuettes!

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesI decorate my Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing. I wrote a mini-tutorial about it during the holidays. I know royal icing can be intimidating, but trust me when I say that if I can use it, anyone can. Just draw the outlines and fill them in. It’s really fun to see these cookies come to life!

Will you be watching the Oscars? Have a great weekend, y’all!Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies

Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies
makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond or lemon extract
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles
luster dust
clear imitation vanilla or vodka

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired (see post above). Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours.

To get sheen (as seen on the Oscars and gold stars), mix 1/4 teaspoon luster dust and 1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla or vodka in a small bowl. Use a clean small paint brush to paint a thin layer over the tops of the dried cookies. Allow to dry 1 hour.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For more information on decorating with royal icing, see this and this. Their royal icing recipes are not the same as the one used here, but the decorating tips are the same.

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