Tag Archives: oscar night

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.

Red Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich CookiesRed Velvet Sandwich Cookies

Red Velvet Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cookie CakeIf you’ve been around here for a while, you know that I love the Oscars. Besides seeing all the nominated films, talking about Oscar politics with one of my best friends, and making statistically-based predictions, I have a traditional Oscar Night meal that always ends with Red Velvet CakeRed Velvet Cookie Cake
…or at least it used to. Gone are the days of hosting/attending Oscar parties (I tend to get a little worked up during the broadcast) and I’m about as single as it gets, so making an entire layer cake just for me is a little silly.Red Velvet Cookie Cake
But tradition is tradition, right?Red Velvet Cookie Cake
Last year I made some adorable Oscar-shaped Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies, but I don’t have that kind of time this year. I’ve got a day job, a mid-week dinner party to prepare, another blog post, and two movies still to see—I’m far too overscheduled to mess around with royal icing!
Red Velvet Cookie CakeThis year, I’m keeping it simple with this Red Velvet Cookie Cake!
Red Velvet Cookie CakeIf you’re into easy-but-impressive desserts that are as adorable as they are delicious, this is the recipe for you. The red velvet dough comes together in ten minutes and bakes up in twenty. Oh, and it doesn’t require a mixer 🙂
You could certainly leave this cookie cake plain, but what’s red velvet without cream cheese frosting? This addition requires a mixer and a piping bag, but it’s totally worth it.Red Velvet Cookie Cake
I just love that frosting border, especially dotted with these little gold star sprinkles!
Whether you’re planning to watch Sunday’s broadcast with friends or make Oscar Night a quiet evening in, you’ll love this Red Velvet Cookie Cake! It’s got all the chocolate-meets-vanilla flavor you love, a thick, chewy cookie texture, and just a hint of tangy cream cheese frosting. Oh, and it’s red like the red carpet ❤Red Velvet Cookie Cake
I haven’t set my Oscar predictions just yet, but one thing is for sure: this recipe is a winner.Red Velvet Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cookie Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon red gel food coloring (I use Wilton)
1 cup white chocolate chips

For Decoration (optional):
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below)
white chocolate chips
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with foil and grease lightly. Set aside.

In a small 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. Mix in eggs, followed by vanilla and red gel food coloring. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in white chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 20-22 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use foil to lift cake out of pan. Peel off foil and place cake on a serving plate. Decorate with Cream Cheese Frosting, white chocolate chips, and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 2 cups (more than you’ll need)

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

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.

Load frosting into a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip. Decorate as desired.

Leftover frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.

Red Velvet Cookie CakeRed Velvet Cookie Cake

Red Velvet Cake

 We are officially two days from the 88th Annual Academy Awards! Everybody else in the country may look forward to Super Bowl Sunday, but this is *my* big Sunday.

My best pal, Tad, and I spend months preparing for Oscar Night. We start making predictions in October, but by the night of the actual awards show, we’ve changed our answers about fourteen times! We have a pretty solid track record of predicting the winners 😊 Tad and I met sophomore year of college at a failed screening of Shrek 2. The projector broke mid-movie, and while the techs tried to fix it, we got to talking. We quickly discovered that we love the Oscars equally, meaning that it’s all we ever talked about even though nobody else on campus cared that the ingenue is always poised to win Best Supporting Actress. Over the ensuing months, we met multiple times a week with books of statistics, former winners, and a deep, abiding passion for “Hollywood’s Biggest Night.” Let’s just say that if there’s ever a job opening for Oscar Historian, I know two people who would love the job.

Tad lives in San Francisco now, but still gets up to watch the nominations announcement with me, even though it airs at 5:30am in California. He’s that kind of friend. And as if we couldn’t be more perfect for each other, he also shares my borderline-obsessive love of Martin Scorsese–he didn’t even bat an eyelash when I decorated my half of our senior year duplex in a Scorsese theme. And don’t even get us started on Leonardo DiCaprio–fingers crossed that this is his year! 

Among our Oscar traditions is a meal. Back when we were sharing one kitchen with an entire dorm, I’d go down to the basement before the pre-show to put together pesto-mozzarella grilled cheeses on good country bread, and a spinach salad with mandarin oranges, thinly-sliced red onion, and balsamic vinaigrette. The pièce de résistance was always a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I wasn’t any sort of baker yet, so both were courtesy of Betty Crocker, but it didn’t matter. The memory of that cake has stuck with both of us, and even now, Oscar Night doesn’t feel like Oscar Night without it…and our constant stream of text messages. 

These days, I make my Red Velvet Cake from scratch, and it is waaaaay better than Betty Crocker could ever hope to be. It’s the perfect combination of chocolate and vanilla flavors, and kept super tender thanks to the additions of cornstarch, oil, and buttermilk. And of course, it’s red, just like the red carpet! 

 

The frosting is the dreamiest, creamiest cream cheese frosting I’ve ever had. Many cream cheese frosting recipes use twice as much cream cheese as butter, and not enough confectioner’s sugar. In my experience, this results in frosting that tastes divine, but is somewhat soupy, and therefore difficult with which to work. Cream cheese simply does not whip as well as butter. But this recipe uses equal weights of both ingredients, so we get all the tang of cream cheese and the stability of butter. A full pound of confectioner’s sugar is beaten in, along with a pinch of salt and two teaspoons of vanilla extract. Once all the ingredients are combined, the frosting is beaten on high for two additional minutes, so it gets extra light and fluffy. It’s what makes this cake the stuff of dreams! 

 Once the frosting is made, use a serrated knife to even out the cakes so they stack evenly. Crumble the cake scraps into a small bowl–you can use these to decorate the frosted cake! 

  As you can see, I added an Oscar to mine, too! To do this, I used a fork to stir gold and black gel food coloring into sparkling sugar (found near the sprinkles at most well-stocked grocery stores). I added some gold luster dust to the gold-dyed sugar, just for some extra sheen. I used a mummy cookie cutter (like this one) for Oscar’s body, and went freehand for the rest of it. I think it turned out pretty cute!

This Red Velvet Cake is perfect for Oscar Night, but it’s great for birthday parties (or just dessert), too! With a tender red crumb, wonderful chocolate and vanilla flavor, and fluffy cream cheese frosting, it’ll be a winner all around 😊 

 Red Velvet Cake
makes one two-layer 9″ round cake or 28 cupcakes

For Greasing:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white vinegar*
2 cups buttermilk*
1/2-3 tablespoons liquid red food coloring*

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

For Decorating (optional):
reserved cake scraps, from trimming the layers
4 tablespoons sparkling sugar*, divided
gold gel food coloring
gold luster dust
black gel food coloring

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, whisk together greasing mixture ingredients. Using a pastry brush, paint the mixture onto the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Make the cake. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and yolk, vanilla, white vinegar, buttermilk, and red food coloring. Add dry ingredients in three installments, combining completely after each addition.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Tap full pans lightly on the counter five times. Bake for 23-28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for ten minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans before inverting the layers onto racks to cool completely. Once layers are cool, use a serrated knife to even the tops. Reserve the cake scraps.

Make the 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.

Fill and frost cooled cakes. Crumble reserved cake scraps and use them to decorate the cake as desired.

If you want to decorate with sparkling sugar, place two tablespoons of the sugar into two small bowls. Add a small dab of gold gel food coloring to one bowl, and a small dab of black to the other. Use forks to stir the gel into the sugar until it’s completely dyed. Stir a touch of gold luster dust (less than 1/8 teaspoon) to the gold sugar. Decorate as desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Notes:

1. For cupcakes, divide prepared batter into 24 standard muffin cups, filling them 2/3 of the way full. Bake at 350F for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
2. Apple cider vinegar may be substituted.
3. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, place 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 2 cup mark. Stir. Let sit for five minutes before using. Do not use skim or fat free milk.
4. Add as much or as little red food coloring as needed to achieve your desired shade, keeping in mind that the color will darken as the cakes bake.
5. I use Wilton White Sparkling Sugar.