Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Red Velvet Black and White Cookies

Christmas time makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I just put up a fun-sized (read: appropriate size for a 1 bedroom apartment in the greater Boston area) Christmas Tree and our family stocking last night. The Christmas cheer is palpable!

I love going around looking at houses all decked out with lights, and spiral trees, and giant Santa balloons.

I am addicted to eating and drinking all things peppermint and candy cane and chocolate.

My best friend Lisa and I can quote the entire Jim Carrey version of the Grinch. It's so worth it.

Who can forget about the whole presents part of Christmas? There is no better feeling than giving someone a perfect and thoughtful gift that they adore, or receiving a gift that had the same care and thought put into it. People love each other year round, but we really know how to show it in December, don't we?

Then, there's the cookies.

Christmas and cookies. Peanut butter and jelly. Skinny jeans and booties. These are matches made in heaven.

I made these Red Velvet Black and White cookies from Joy the Baker this past weekend. These could not have been baked at a better time. It was like, I was all depressed because it started snowing and life is sometimes so boring and I couldn't get into the Christmas spirit and then BAM! Red Velvet + Chocolate Glaze + Cream Cheese Frosting came to remind me that things are never all that bad.

They reminded me, in fact, that things are usually pretty darn good.

I will absolutely be making these a second time for Christmas with the family in New York. I encourage you to do the same, no matter where your holiday celebrations take you. They are soft and decadent, rich from cocoa powder and chocolate glaze, but also sweet and tangy from the cream cheese frosting. Go forth and bake these, friends! You know you want to!

Here's what you need:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk (I used the low fat kind, as it was all I could find, and they came out fine!)

White Side:
 1/2 block room temperature cream cheese
1/2 stick softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract

Black Side:
1/2 stick + 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used about 3/4 of a Toll House bag)
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Scant 1/8 teaspoon of salt

Here's what you do:

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using a hand mixer until incorporated and fluffy peaks start to form.
In a separate bowl, crack open the egg. If it is a "good egg" add it to the butter and sugar. Do the same with the egg yolk (separating out the whites over a trash can). Beat until mixed thoroughly then add the food coloring and vanilla extract. Mix again until the whole mixture becomes a rich, red color.
Add half the flour mixture and beat for about 30 seconds. Turn off the hand mixer if necessary and slowly add the buttermilk. Add the rest of the dry ingredients until the dry ingredients have fully come together with the wet ingredients.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop even tablespoon-fuls onto the paper. Keep the cookies separated by a couple of inches as they will first expand before rising in the oven.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the tops are dry and the cookies bounce back slightly when you tap lightly with your finger. Cool for a few minutes before setting aside on a cooling rack. The cookies must be completely cooled down before you ice them!
Clean off your hand mixer in preparation for preparing the cream cheese frosting.
Add the cream cheese to a medium mixing bowl and beat on low to medium speed for about a minute. Add the butter and beat until the two are soft and well incorporated. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat until fully dissolved into the cream cheese and butter. Add the almond extract (vanilla can be substituted here, but I liked the contrast of almond with the rich chocolate glaze) and remaining powdered sugar (if necessary to thicken the frosting). Beat everything together until a luscious, spreadable icing forms.
Now let's tackle the chocolate. Melting chocolate must be approached light handed. I cannot tell you how many times I have scorched chocolate because I wasn't patient enough.
So, find a bowl that fits nicely on top of a small to medium sauce pot. Fill the pot about 1/4 of the way with water and turn the stove on to low. We just want the water to steam ever so lightly.
Add the butter and the chocolate to the bowl over the heat and stir until almost all of the chocolate is melty. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir constantly until all the butter and chocolate have melted together. Quickly stir in the corn syrup and salt. Allow to cool for a few minutes before frosting (I frosted the white sides first, and this gave the chocolate ample time to cool).
To frost the cookies, flip the cookies on their heads so that you are frosting the flat side. Using a butter knife, frost half of a cookie with the cream cheese frosting. Next, using a separate butter knife, brush on the chocolate glaze. Be sure the white and black halves meet but to not become swirled together in the center. You want a nice, clean divide!

PHEW! Well, that sounds like a lot, but it is really just the assembly that takes some time. These cookies are so worth it! Even I was impressed that these came out of my oven. If you are looking to impress someone at your next cookie swap, this recipe is the winner!

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