I’m extraordinarily picky about red velvet cake. Too often, the cake is dry and lacking in cocoa flavor with a super-sugary buttercream that overwhelms it. And if there is cream cheese frosting, you can barely taste the cream cheese through the sugar. I’m almost always disappointed.
I take my red velvet seriously. This is because—not to be immodest—I make a darn good red velvet cake. And quite honestly, I haven’t found one elsewhere that tops it. I haven’t posted the recipe yet on this blog (someday!), although I did post a variation of it on the old one. It’s incredibly moist, with a deep cocoa flavor, and not too sweet. It’s topped with a perfectly light cream cheese frosting, and the cake and frosting are in glorious harmony with one another.
I haven’t made that cake in a while because it’s not exactly the healthiest everyday dessert and I haven’t had an occasion to whip it out, but I really don’t know why I never thought of red velvet cookies before. I tried some from a bakery truck here in town the other week and a light bulb went off. Duh! While these cookies don’t quite match up to the decadence of a big slice of dreamy red velvet cake, they are a great vehicle for some serious red velvet flavor (with a fraction of the calories, thankfully—unless you eat the whole batch in one sitting, which isn’t as unlikely as I’d like to believe).
These cookies are moist little nuggets of cocoa flavor with a delicate, subtle cream cheese swirl to bring in the flavor of that cream cheese frosting that I so love. You can leave it out entirely if you’re not a fan, or even add more cream cheese if you like. They’re also super easy and come together in a snap, and clock in at only 100 calories a pop! Not bad, eh?
Your cast of characters includes: flour (I used a mix of all-purpose and white whole wheat), sugar (brown and white), cocoa powder, unsalted butter, baking soda, an egg, vanilla, salt, red food coloring, and neufchatel cheese (or regular or reduced fat cream cheese). Super simple.
Cream your butter and sugars together, then beat in your egg and vanilla.
Now add in your food coloring. …So appetizing, no?
Beat that in until well combined. My boyfriend said I should point out that it looks like brain matter at this point. You’re welcome.
Now add your flours, baking soda, cocoa, and salt. I didn’t even bother pre-mixing them because I’m lazy. The world did not implode and all was well.
Mix until just combined and not a second more! You’ll have a beautiful, thick, red dough.
Now here’s the kicker: we’re going to mix in a few tablespoons of neufchatel cheese. Not so that it’s completely combined, but just so there’s a slight swirl of cream cheese throughout and you get a hint of the flavor. Measure out three tablespoons of cheese, then nuke it in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften it up a bit.
Now drop the dollops of cream cheese into your dough, breaking them up into several pieces and scattering them throughout.
Now, mix just for a second until you get a nice little swirling of white amidst the deep red dough. I actually mixed mine a little more than I’d wanted to, so seriously—just for a second.
Now scoop out your dough with a cookie scoop or tablespoon and bake at 375º for 10 to 12 minutes.
Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few moments, then devour!
These cookies are delicious little bites of red velvet perfection. They’re super moist with a deep cocoa flavor, not too sweet, with just a hint of cream cheese tang. You can add even more cream cheese to bump up that flavor if you like. Throw in some chocolate chips or pecans if you’re feeling feisty!
Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Swirl
Makes about 22 small cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon red food coloring
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons Neufchatel or reduced fat cream cheese, softened
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy and well-combined.
Beat in egg and vanilla, then beat in food coloring.
Add flours, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and mix until just combined.
Add cream cheese in pieces to dough and mix briefly until just swirled.
Portion out by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets.
22 cookies, per cookie