Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Swirl

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.
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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.
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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!

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Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Swirl
Makes about 22 small cookies
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1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
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
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Preheat oven to 375ºF.
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Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy and well-combined.
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Beat in egg and vanilla, then beat in food coloring.
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Add flours, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder and mix until just combined.
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Add cream cheese in pieces to dough and mix briefly until just swirled.
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Portion out by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets.
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Nutrition Facts
22 cookies, per cookie
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Calories 100
Fat 5g
Cholesterol 21mg
Sodium 96.5mg
Potassium 41.7mg
Carbohydrate 13.1g
Fiber 1g
Sugar 6.5g
Protein 1.7g

38 thoughts on “Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Swirl

  1. Sasha @ The Procrastobaker

    Please do post your cake recipe soon! Ive never had a red velvet cake as it doesnt really exist here in the UK but i want to make one so very much and have just been waiting for the perfect recipe, by the sounds you may have it!! :) So i really cannnttt wait. but in the meantime your cookies look absolutely unique and just plain gorgeous, lovely post :)

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  3. Nailya

    I loved the recipe, however when I tried to make it, my dough wouldn’t come together, it was all crumbly until I added 3 Tsp of milk to it. Do you have any idea why that could have happened?
    I also might have over-mixed it.
    Cookies are in the oven now. I hope they turn out.

    1. amybites

      The dough is really thick and I thought it was dry too, but after a few more seconds of mixing it came together. Why yours didn’t come together could be any number of things—solidity of your butter, size of your egg, too much flour, room temperature, etc. Adding a few tablespoons of milk was totally justified though—I considered it myself. :) Hope they turned out in the end!

      1. Nailya

        Oh, they did turn out! Next time I’ll try to melt butter and I ‘ll add more cream cheese and chocolate chips.

      2. Lisa

        So if these cookies are a not too sweet do you think adding some white chips would enhance or ruin them? So excited to try these for my cookie exchange Lisa

  4. Tati

    Sounds delicious! Do you need to refrigerate these to store them since they have cream cheese in them or does it not matter since they’ve already been baked?

    1. amybites

      Nope, since you’re baking the cream cheese it won’t require refrigeration…and I’m pretty sure they won’t last long enough to require refrigeration anyway. :)

      1. Tati

        Great, thanks! I was wondering about it since I want to mail some to a friend a few states away.

  5. Jenna

    I don’t know what I did wrong but these cookies just had no taste. They weren’t sweet or anything. Just bland bland bland. Help?

    1. amybites

      Hmmm, that’s odd. They’re definitely not super-super-sweet, but they should’ve had a strong red velvet flavor. The only thing I can guess is that perhaps there was some mis-measuring or something was left out—or you just have different tastebuds than mine! Next time you could try adding more sugar, but other than that I’m not sure what to tell you. :( Sorry!

  6. Alison

    These are delicious…but mine are most definatly dark brown, not red. What kind of cocoa powder and what kind of food coloring did you use? I used store brand gel coloring and hershey’s special dark cocoa powder. Im thinking its the special dark’s fault.

    1. amybites

      I would agree with your assessment—I used regular cocoa powder and it’s pretty light so the red can shine through. Next time just add more red and you should be good :)

  7. cookielover

    Thanks for sharing the recipe! it was delicious! probably best cookies i’ve ever had :)

    My batter was quite thick, so I ended up adding a bit of milk as well, along with more red food colouring to enhance the colour :)

  8. Toni

    These were delicious! The perfect amount of cocoa. I had some trouble swirling the cream cheese in. Next time I’ll soften it a bit before trying to mix it! Great recipe though! Thanks!

  9. Cheries

    Hello! I was wondering if these have to be refrigerated. Also, how long do they keep for? I’m very excited to try baking these. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    1. amybites

      Hi there! These don’t have to be refrigerated since the cream cheese is baked. At room temperature in a sealed container, they’ll be fine for several days but taste best in the first 2 days after baking. They’ll keep for a good week or so in the fridge, and of course, you can always freeze them! I love freezing cookies and just taking them out as I need them—usually I don’t even thaw them before chowing down. :)

  10. Patrick

    i used euphoria unsweetened baking cocoa and it turned out a really dark, reddish brown. for the most reddish color possible just find a cocoa that is really light in color.

    1. amybites

      You can definitely use silpats, or parchment paper, or anything you usually use for baking cookies. :)

  11. Brandi

    :grin: I made these last night, Amazing!!! they seemed a little bland so I mixed up some cream cheese and sugar and smeared a little on top… AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. elizabeth

    okay-i’ve now attempted 2 batches. the flavor is amazing-but both times with slight mixing the color went straight to deep deep red/brown. :( i used hersheys regular cocoa and regular food coloring. should i add another tsp of food coloring?

    1. amybites

      Hmmm. Yeah, try adding more food coloring until you’re satisfied with the color. Or, you can use gel (icing) colors so you add more concentrated color without the added liquid. Hope it works out!

  13. Christine Ossowski

    I just made these little bites of heaven yesterday for the first time. Now, I must begin by saying I am not a baker. I hardly ever cook anything. Besides the dough being very thick and stiff, these were pretty easy to make. Luckily I read the comments so I did not panic when my cheap mixer struggled to get the last bit of cocoa & flour to turn a ravishing red color (I did a double batch and doubled the amount of red food coloring.) I was pleasantly surprised by the big pillowy cookies the emerged from the oven and even happier that they didn’t sink when they cooled. I would add more cream cheese the next time or even omit it and frost them. Either way, they were DELISH! I love red velvet cake more than my youngest child (some days) and these were true to that unique taste. Thank you for a great recipe!!

  14. Bec

    It’ll be awesome and I would totally appreciate it if you can share your darn good cake recipe… Please? :)

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