23 January 2011

Red Velvet Cookies

Red Velvet Cookies
I found this recipe  following a link to Buck Bannister's great site sugarpiesfood.com for something completely different. The recipes there are so like the things I grew up with - having parents from central North Carolina, the sand hills, even though I grew up in a large city in Florida. I have never made red velvet anything, but have had red velvet cupcakes once, but the ratio of frosting to cookie in Buck's red velvet cookie recipe seemed to me to be a better fit. I can't help it - I love cream cheese frosting on almost anything, if that's a failure in my character, well, that's just too damn bad. Buck was kind enough to let me reprint his recipe here, but if you like real southern food, take a look - his website is great.
I had fun shooting photos of these cookies. The natural light seemed to cooperate and so I just worked with what I had. I did wonder how you would know when a red cookie was finished, but the recipe is correct - you can tell. My comments/notes, etc. below the recipe.

Red Velvet Cookies
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1-2 tbs. red food color
sprinkles for decoration
Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe that follows)

Red Sugar Crystals (or other decorations)

RVC Ingredients
Preheat oven to 375°. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment cream together butter, shortening, and sugar until fluffy. Add egg, sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Sift together flour, soda, cream of tartar, salt, and cocoa. With mixer on
slow speed add to wet ingredients in bowl of mixer just until combined. Add red food coloring and beat on medium speed until a uniform red color is achieved. It should be a deep red color.

Drop dough by tablespoons (or use a 1 1/2 tsp. cookie scoop for best results) on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkle with red sugar crystals.

RVC Frosting Ingredients
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 pound confectioners' sugar

Mix the cream cheese, butter, lemon zest and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until just combined. Add the sugar and mix until smooth.

Lovely Cookies
Notes: It must be mentioned that I'm not a huge fan of chocolate ~ heresy I realize ~ but these had a solid rich chocolate favor that I really enjoyed. They are rich, so don't plan to eat a plateful, but they are a wonderful treat.
The batter becomes pretty stiff when the flour/cocoa mix is added - don't worry, it works fine. I only used 1 tablespoon of red food coloring because that's all I had, but I think it works well. I used a batter scoop to make the cookies the same size which lead me to wonder how to know what size batter scoop it was since it's not marked and I don't remember what it's supposed to be. Either way, I like using something that helps makes the cookies a consistent size. I purchased a new container of cocoa powder and I'm glad I did - the other ones were painfully expired - yes, there were two that were thrown out.
I did add about a teaspoon of lemon juice to the cream cheese frosting, but I like things lemony and I thought it contrasted well against the chocolate flavor of the cookie. An offset spatula was very helpful in frosting the cookies and I enjoyed using just a few sprinkles to hightlight the red color of the cookies.

RVC: photo: MotH
The final hurdle was bringing some of these to the office. I have some serious food-driven colleagues and they have a bigger experience with red velvet items than I do. To a person, these cookies were praised for the great frosting with the densely flavored chocolate cookie. There is nothing like cookies for breakfast that makes for an interesting staff meeting. Total score!
Music to cook by: Jews with Horns - The Klezmatics

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