Well, it’s upon us yet again. That magical (or, well, dreaded) time of year when we have romance and roses in one camp, and bitterness and booze in the other. For one, red signifies romance; for the other, rage. Ok, that might be a tad dramatic, but seriously, sometimes it can seem like a world divided on Valentine’s Day! Regardless of which camp you fall into, though, the holiday has its perks. If you’re in a relationship, well, there’s that; if you’re not, there’s an endless amount of self-deprecating humor and an excuse for a great night out with your friends (and their other single friends). Did I mention the self-deprecating humor? It’s just so good. But hey, you can’t accuse me of being bitter – not when I make things that are so, so sweet.
I don’t care who you are, Valentine’s Day is undeniably a fabulous opportunity to indulge a little. And considering there are a ton of red velvet recipes I’ve been eyeing lately, I was not about to pass up the chance to do some fun, festive baking for the blog (and, I mean, the taste-testing that follows doesn’t suck). Plus, when I inevitably came across the Valentine’s Day section at Target (bursting at the seams in all its obnoxious pink, red and white glory) and found the most adorable little decorating accessories, I really had no choice but to say, “Screw it,” and embrace all the heart-filled hype.
I may have embraced Valentine’s Day, but I needed a warm-up. I decided that these elegant, yet festive, crinkle cookies would be the perfect way to ease into the holiday. I had been wanting to try some variation of red velvet cookies for a while, but hadn’t quite found the perfect fit. I was in search of something slightly more sophisticated than a whoopie pie and something more unique than just a red velvet version of a chocolate chip cookie, so when I finally found this recipe, I was sold. As an added bonus, although they looked just perfect on their own, they could easily be made into gorgeous little cookie sandwiches! Sweets that are spectacular solo or perfect in pairs? These things had Valentine’s Day written all over them. See what I did there?
For as beautiful as these things are, they’re pretty simple to put together! The trickiest thing about them is the fact that the dough must must must be chilled, so they require a little planning ahead. Once the dough is chilled, though, you just shape it into little balls, roll in powdered sugar, and pop on a parchment-lined baking sheet. There is very minimal spreading, so you can fit a lot of these in a single batch, expediting the baking process.
As you can see, these. things. are. gorgeous. I got so excited when I took them out of the oven and couldn’t wait to capture them in all of their bold, beautiful, bright red glory. To say they speak for themselves is an understatement – they practically beg to be eaten. So much so, in fact, that they needed practically zero staging. I was able to get some great shots without even taking them off the baking sheets.
As if these could get any more irresistible, I decided to make half of them into divine little sandwich cookies. Totally appropriate for Valentine’s Day, since each cookie would be paired with its perfect little match. Speaking of, red velvet and cream cheese are a match made in heaven, and I’ll be damned if I was going to keep the two apart on this of all holidays. I found a frosting recipe with a light, fluffy texture, and piped it onto the bottoms of the cookies, placing another right on top.
Together or apart, these delectable little delicacies make such a statement (and the Valentine’s Day metaphors continue). They’re soft and cake-like, with a subtle chocolate flavor. These aren’t your over-the-top, rich, decadent cookies; rather, they give off almost a chocolatey shortbread-type vibe. This makes them the perfect candidate for a sandwich pairing – a fluffy cream cheese center complements these cookies with the perfect pop of flavor.
These little bites of heaven really have something for everyone. Not only are these a stunning sight to behold, but the flavors live up to the hype. Sort of like the ideal Valentine – amirite?! If you’re not convinced yet, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. I mean, maybe you’re just too picky (man If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that one… (oh come on, it’s funny!)).
Whether solo or in pairs (both you and the cookies), you really can’t go wrong here. If you have a Valentine, these would be such a sweet treat to make for your special someone! If you don’t, you won’t have to worry about anyone judging you when you eat four or five (or, you know, twelve) of these things. The single life has its perks. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Get out there and spread some love.
Oh, and just one more for the road. Sorry, had to.
Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies
Crinkle Cookies (adapted from Cooking Classy):
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 Tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
5 tsp red food coloring
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
Whipped Cream Cheese Filling (from Not So Humble Pie):
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream, cold (not milk, not whipping cream – heavy cream!)
1. Prepare the cookie dough. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt for 30 seconds, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs 1 at a time, blending until combined after each addition. Mix in milk, vanilla, lemon juice and red food coloring. With mixer set on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing until just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours, or until firm enough to shape into balls (do NOT skip this step – I promise!).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl or onto a large plate. Remove dough from refrigerator, and scoop dough out. With floured (or, in this case, powdered sugared!) hands, shape into medium balls (about 2 1/2 Tbsp each, depending on how big or small you want your cookies!). Roll cookie dough balls into powdered sugar and evenly coat. Transfer to Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheets and flatten slightly (if you’re definitely making cookie sandwiches, I’d flatten them a little more, as these pretty much hold their shape while baking). Bake for 12 – 14 minutes, depending on your oven (note: my oven is very hot, so I only baked mine for 11). Allow to rest on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
2. If you’re making cookie sandwiches, onto this heavenly filling. Beat the cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. Beat on low quickly and briefly, only until just combined and smooth (it may look lumpy after a few seconds, but once it fully combines it will smooth out). Do not overbeat! Alternatively, you may fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until fully combined.
Pair up cookies of similar size. Pipe frosting to the bottom of one cooled cookie, placing its little match right on top and pressing down slightly. Serve and swoon!