Tag Archives: red velvet

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.

Red Velvet Cut-Out CookiesRed Velvet Cut-Out CookiesRed Velvet Cut-Out Cookies

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars

Red Velvet Cheesecake BarsWhile I was in Texas this past December, I held a pop-up sale in my parents’ dining room. When I set the date and began to plan the thing, I had grand ideas about what I would have available. The list of ideas included grapefruit bars and pie and Texas-shaped ginger cookies, but when it came down to it, I threw all those ideas out the window and took it easy on myself. The preparation was still intense, but making drop cookies and bars was far simpler than what I had originally planned.

There were Peanut Butter Blossoms, Malted Whoppers Cookies, and Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, but the first things to go were these Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars. Between their eye-catching color, classic chocolate-meets-vanilla flavor, and the swirls of cheesecake, their quick disappearance is easy to understand.

Red Velvet Cheesecake BarsMaking Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars may sound daunting to some, but they were actually the easiest recipe I made. I mean, there’s no softening of butter, no chilling of dough, no waiting for chocolate to harden. Nope. These bars are ridiculously easy to make, and come together in just a few minutes.

The red velvet base is a play off of my favorite blondie recipe. You’ll notice a few changes from the norm here, most noticeably that they’re bright red, but food coloring isn’t the only thing these bars have in common with their namesake cake: natural unsweetened cocoa is subbed for part of the usual all-purpose flour and a touch of vinegar gives the base that signature red velvet tang.

Red Velvet Cheesecake BarsThe batter comes together with just a whisk and a bowl, but you will need your mixer for the cheesecake. It’s the real star of the show here. I mean, red velvet is great and all, but I am all about that cheesecake layer. There’s nothing new here–cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla are beaten together before being swirled into the red velvet batter. Everything goes into the oven for about half an hour before taking a seemingly endless four hour chill. For all the ease of preparation here, there is a lot of patience required. I promise it’ll all be worth it once you bite into one of these bars.

Red Velvet Cheesecake BarsLook at that! There’s almost as much cheesecake as there is red velvet! Make a batch this weekend, or use a heart cookie cutter and make them part of your Valentine’s Day ❤ Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars
makes 24-32 bars

Cheesecake:
16 ounces (2 bricks) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Red Velvet Base:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Mix in vanilla. Set aside.

Make the red velvet. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking completely after each addition. Whisk in white vinegar, vanilla, and food coloring. Use a silicone spatula to fold in flour mixture. Reserve 2/3 cup of the batter before spreading the rest in the prepared pan.

Pour cheesecake mixture over the red velvet batter. Drop spoonfuls of the reserved red velvet over the top and swirl in with a small, thin knife. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Tightly cover the pan with foil. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove top foil and place pan on the bottom rack to bake for 15-20 more minutes. Bars are done when the cheesecake layer barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Allow bars to cool in the pan on a rack until they reach room temperature. Refrigerate for four hours, until cold. Place bars on a cutting board and remove foil. Use a large chef’s knife to slice them into bars (or a cookie cutter for fun shapes). Serve.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Bars

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.

Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles

 We’ve covered the fact that very little baking went on in my house growing up. Unfortunately for everyone, that included Christmas cookies. Don’t feel too bad for me though–we had plenty of family friends dropping off homemade treats, and I spent lots of time shoving them in my face between bites of artichoke dip. I made the best of a less-than-ideal situation 😜 And to further my resilience, today I am embarking on a new series that focuses specifically on holiday cookies. I have asked just about everyone I know about their favorite holiday cookies, and gone a little crazy digging through Rose’s Christmas Cookies and Pinterest to bring you Twelve Days of Cookies! That’s right–twelve cookie recipes between now and December 25th!  

We’re starting with a doozy: Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles. Peppermint-scented red velvet cookies coated in a pulverized peppermint candy crust and baked until soft and chewy. Bright red cookies with a hint of cocoa, a good dose of peppermint flavor, and a crispy candy crust? Could they possibly have more holiday cheer?!

These cookies start with a slightly doctored-up version of my Red Velvet Cookie dough. We add just a hint of peppermint flavor (in the form of peppermint extract) to the classic chocolate-vanilla flavor of red velvet. Vanilla and peppermint? Good. Chocolate and peppermint? Good. Vanilla and chocolate and peppermint? AMAZING. Now, peppermint extract is great and all, but it is potent. This recipe only requires 1/2 teaspoon for an entire batch of cookies. If we were to use more than 1/2 teaspoon, we’d risk cookies that taste a lot like toothpaste. I love the flavor of Colgate for cleaning my teeth, but I don’t want it in my dessert thankyouverymuch. So, be careful with your extract. If anything, you may want to reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon. In addition to the peppermint *in* the cookies, we’re going to coat them in pulverized peppermint candies!
 
 
 
To make the coating, we’ll need 15 starlight peppermint candies and a food processor or high-powered blender. Crushing the candy by hand will not work here because we need the candies to become powder. If there are large pieces of peppermint in our coating, they will melt all over our pans while they’re in the oven, and quite possibly burn. So, blitz the peppermints in the food processor until they are a fine powder. A little warning: this will be LOUD. So loud that your upstairs neighbors may knock on the door and ask what on earth you are doing. So prepare yourself. Ear muffs may be a good choice. Once the candies have been processed, whisk the powder together with a bit of granulated sugar. This gives our coating a little extra texture and allows it to adhere to the dough more easily. Scoop chilled dough by the tablespoon and roll it into balls. Roll each ball in the coating, place on a prepared sheet pan, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Then just let them cool and enjoy.

Be warned: one bite of these minty chocolate-vanilla cookies, and you’ll be hooked 😊 The crispy, crackly crust alone is worth the effort! These cookies are perfect for holiday parties, gifting, cookie exchanges, or just keeping in your cookie jar. They’re guaranteed to bring a little holiday cheer to your family and friends!

Make sure to check back over the next three weeks for eleven more cookie recipes!  Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles
makes about 3 dozen cookies

Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder*
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 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 teaspoon liquid red food coloring*

Coating
15 starlight peppermint candies*, pulverized in the food processor
1/4 cup granulated sugar

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. In a small bowl, whisk together pulverized peppermint candies and granulated sugar.

Scoop chilled dough in 1 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Roll dough balls in coating mixture before placing them at least two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 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.

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

Notes:


1. Do not use Dutch process cocoa here. Your cookies will have an unpleasant metallic flavor.
2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted.
3. Gel food coloring may also be used.
4. Make sure to use starlight peppermint hard candies, not soft peppermints. Candy canes may also be used. You will need 10-12 standard-sized candy canes.

Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles

Red Velvet Cookies

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I have a cookie commitment every Wednesday night. I can make whatever I want, as long as there are five dozen. Whatever I want! I usually just take recipes I am testing/experimenting with that week. Lately, it’s been a lot of shortbread and sandwich cookies. Sometimes it’s brownies (bar cookies are still cookies). Everyone is always very kind and interested to see what I’ve brought, with the exception of the time I brought a truly sad batch of chocolate roll-out cookies. You know they’re bad when there are still two dozen left the next week…oops. But back to the point. On very rare occasions, all the cookies disappear in twenty minutes, I get high fives left and right, and a slightly curmudgeonly friend of mine holds a half-eaten cookie in his hand and says “Liz. Liz! These are a home run.” Since these people eat my cookie experiments literally all the time, that says something. When I made these Red Velvet Cookies last spring, I had a home run kind of night.

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imageimageRed Velvet is shrouded in mystery. Is it chocolate or vanilla? It’s both. Like a chocolate-vanilla swirl soft-serve cone, it’s the absolute best of both worlds. Why is it red? In the old days, it was because acid reacted with baking soda and cocoa powder, giving the finished product a reddish hue. (Devil’s Food cake has a similar backstory, except that it is decidedly chocolate.) These days, most bakers rely on red food coloring or beet juice to achieve a red final product. At the end of the day, there are only five requirements for something to be Red Velvet, and none of them are cream cheese frosting. I know. It’s a travesty! Red Velvet must have:

  1. Vanilla. In these cookies, we use 1 1/2 teaspoons for a pronounced vanilla flavor. It won’t get lost here.
  2. Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. Some recipes use as little as a tablespoon, some use as much as 1/2 cup. I like to use 1/4 cup–just enough to say “there’s chocolate in here, but this is not a chocolate dessert.” Also, cocoa powder can really dry out baked goods. The smallish amount in this recipe makes sure that our final product is soft and chewy, rather than dry and crumbly. This (and pretty much any Red Velvet recipe) is not a good recipe for Dutch Process Cocoa, which will have a metallic-tasting result.
  3. Acid in the form of buttermilk and/or vinegar. In the case of these cookies, it’s powdered buttermilk. It reacts with both the baking soda and the cocoa powder to give these cookies a pleasant tang. The buttermilk powder will also give these cookies some additional tenderness, along with the acid in the brown sugar.
  4. A reddish color (duh). Here, we use one teaspoon of regular liquid red food coloring. I know that food coloring is terrible for us, but I don’t often have beet juice, and I kind of believe that dessert has some wiggle room. If you aren’t comfortable using food coloring, just leave it out. These will be delicious no matter their color.
  5. A velvety texture. That’s where the “Velvet” comes from. Now, cookies and velvety texture are not synonymous. Unless they’re cakey cookies, and I don’t see the point of eating cakey cookies when I could just have cake instead. For me, the velvet factor comes in the form of soft centers. Softness comes from the addition of cornstarch, which allows for tenderness here, just like it does in cake flour. Also, the cookies bake for just a few minutes–when they come out of the oven, the edges are chewy and the centers are soft and a little underbaked. Velvety, if you will.

Whew! That’s a lot of information for a Friday. All of that said, these are cookies. Making cookies should be fun. And these red, chocolate-vanilla cookies studded with white chocolate chips are really, really fun. Whether you’re making them for your family or as holiday gifts, they’re a total home run.

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Red Velvet Cookies
makes about four dozen cookies

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder*
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*
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips, plus optional extra for decorating*

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. Fold in 1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips. 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 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Set dough balls at least two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 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. Repeat rolling, baking, and cooling until all cookie dough has been used.

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

Notes:

  1. Do not use Dutch process cocoa here. Your cookies will have an unpleasant metallic flavor.
  2. Dark brown sugar may be substituted.
  3. If you are not comfortable using food coloring, just leave it out. The cookies will still taste great.
  4. I like to press a few extra white chocolate chips into the tops of the baked cookies, but this is purely for aesthetics.
  5. If the chilled dough is too difficult to scoop, let it sit on the counter for ten minutes before proceeding.