Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Red Velvet Cake Sandwich Cookies

Red velvet cake is one of my favorite types of cake. It is a buttermilk cake with a hint of cocoa - just enough for flavor, not enough to make it "chocolate cake" - that has a gorgeous red hue. The red, in theory, comes from the interaction between baking soda and cocoa powder, but more often than not food coloring is added. Some people are put off of the cake by the food coloring, but they're the ones missing out on a delicious cake.
Instead of going with a regular cake or cupcakes, I opted for cake-like sandwich cookies, more similar to the whoopie pies that I made a few weeks ago than to, for example, Oreos. The cookies are moist and tender and the filling is a mascarpone cream cheese mixture that adds just the right amount of flavor and sweetness. The cookies themselves are actually low fat, although the presence of the filling makes up for that fact. I added a little bit of buttermilk as a nod to the traditional red velvet cakes, but I have to admit that you can't really taste it. You can, however, taste the cocoa, the vanilla and the delicious filling.
These are best if eaten within a day or two of being made.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Red Velvet Cake Sandwich Cookies
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp red food coloring (more, if necessary)

Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg whites, followed by the applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add additional coloring, if needed, to reach desired color. Keep in mind that the color will dim slightly with baking, but I try to shoot for a burgundy/brown color. Stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
Drop batter two tablespoonfuls at a time onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 2-inch in diameter rounds.
Bake for 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Cookies should spring back when lightly touched, like a cake.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely

Makes about 40 cookies.

Mascarpone Cream Cheese Filling
4 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla paste is even better)
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Beat together mascarpone and cream cheese until well combined. Beat in vanilla and milk. Add in confectioners sugar, scraping down the bowl as you go. When it has all been incorporated, beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until icing is very smooth and thick, but not stiff. Add more confectioners sugar, if necessary.
Spread filling between pairs of cooled cookies.
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies.