Thursday, September 17, 2009

Going back to red velvet

I combine my love of baking with my love of reading when I read culinary mysteries. Some notable authors of the genre are: Virginia Rich, Diane Mott Davidson, and Joanne Fluke. I love a good mystery and when the books are based on characters who bake or cook for a living with recipes sprinkled throughout the chapters - well, what's not to love?

This is a picture of red velvet cookies whose recipe is from The Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke, who writes the Hannah Swensen mystery series. Normally I don't try a lot of the recipes in the books but I was going through my red velvet cake obsession at the time that I read this book so I had to try the cookie version. Am I glad I did. These are to-die-for cookies. Essentially they're chocolate cookies with red food coloring just as red velvet cake is chocolate cake with red food coloring. Like the cake, these cookies are frosted with cream cheese frosting. My nieces love these cookies and they're perfect for Christmas and Valentine's Day because of their color. The only drawback is because they're frosted, you can't stack them or package them for mailing. They don't spread much and stay nice and thick. This is one of the few cookies I'm actually very careful to time in the oven. Due to their color, you can't tell when they're done by appearance alone and you don't want to overbake these. They're perfect just slightly underbaked as they're nice and fudgy. The cream cheese frosting provides a nice contrast to cut the richness of the cookie with the sweetness of the frosting.

Red Velvet Cookies

2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 tablespoon red food coloring
¾ cup sour cream
2 cups flour (pack it down in the cup when you measure it)
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray. Melt chocolate and let cool.
2. Combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat them on medium speed until they’re smooth. This should take less than a minute.
3. Add the baking soda and salt, and resume beating on medium again for another minute, or until they’re incorporated. Add the egg and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth. Add the red food coloring and mix for about 30 seconds.
4. Shut off the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Then add the melted chocolate and mix again for another minute on medium speed. Shut off the mixer and scrape down the bowl again. At low speed, mix in half the flour. When the flour is incorporated, mix in the sour cream.
5. Scrape down the bowl again and add the rest of the flour. Beat until the flour is fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and give it a stir with a spoon. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
6. Use a teaspoon to spoon the dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets, 12 cookies to a standard-sized sheet. Bake the cookies at 375˚F for 9 to 11 minutes, or until they rise and become firm. Slide the parchment from the cookie sheets and onto a wire rack. Let the cookies cool on the rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

¼ cup butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1. Mix the softened butter with the softened cream cheese and the vanilla until the mixture is smooth.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar in half-cup increments until the frosting is of proper spreading consistency.

Oh and I did bake tonight after work but it was Petra's Banana Bread recipe that I already posted about. My aunt and uncle are arriving this weekend from Canada for my dad's 70th birthday and this is one of my aunt's favorites so I had to make enough for her to enjoy while she's here and some for her to take home to my cousins back in Winnipeg.

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