Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Woah!  Red Velvet, white chocolate, and pink M&M candies?!  Now if this doesn't scream Valentine's Day to you, I don't know what will.  It's definitely not as subtle as my last two chocolate heavy posts, but I actually think this one might be my favorite.  I'm a huge chocaholic, but I'm also really infatuated with cookies.  I can't ever get enough, and I just find them to be the most comforting dessert of all.  I love cookies for their simplicity and their versatility.  I can get as much enjoyment out of eating a cookie straight up as it is as I can if I choose to crumble it up into a milkshake or use them to sandwich a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I'm also an enormous fan of M&M candies to the point where I refuse to ever buy them, simply because I know that once I start eating them, I'll have a really hard time stopping myself from eating an entire bag.  However, since it's Valentine's Day and pink M&M's are lining the shelves in supermarkets, I had to incorporate them into some kind of dessert!b

When I was planning my Valentine's Day desserts I knew that I definitely wanted to include something that kids would love for the holiday too, because Valentine's Day isn't just for adults!  I remember when I was little that I loved writing Valentine's Day cards for everyone in my elementary school classes, and Valentine's Day arts and crafts were always a lot of fun.  Even better though were all the Valentine's candy and chocolates that came along with the Valentine's Day cards!  I'm such a sucker for fun-size and holiday theme candy that I sometimes feel like I'm still five years old.  There's just something about a pink M&M or a fun size Kit Kat bar that makes it infinitely better than its regular version.  That might just be me, but it's something I've always felt.  I'm the type of person that still gets excited about chocolate chip cookies with M&M's mixed into them, so in the end, my kid-approved Valentine's Day dessert option was a no-brainer.  Red velvet cookies with white chocolate chips and pink M&M's.  Super Valentine's Day themed, super sweet, super pink and red, but also super good!

These cookies were really simple to mix up.  Essentially, all I did was take my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and make a few subtle changes to it in order to transform them into sweet red velvet cookies. Even with the minor additions I made, the cookies are easy peasy to put together.  Just like in my favorite recipe, the cookie dough for the red velvet version should chill in the refrigerator for at least six hours, although the longer it sits in the fridge, the better!  This gives the cookie dough a chance to get all its flavors to meld together and intensify, and makes for a really spectacular cookie in the end.  This version starts off just like any other cookie dough, by creaming together butter and sugar.  A healthy amount of brown sugar in the recipe gives the cookies a nice depth of caramely flavor, and the white sugar adds the perfect amount of pure sweetness.  The addition of a little bit of buttermilk and white vinegar adds that familiar red velvet tang to the cookies, which is what distinguishes anything red velvet from anything that's just "red."  Eggs and vanilla get beaten in, followed by a mix of your usual cookie dry ingredients.  A little flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.  Nothing crazy here!  

And then, you add in a pound of white chocolate chips and M&M's.  I guess I spoke to soon, right?

If I can make any one recommendation to you before you make these cookies, is that you must ensure that you buy more white chocolate chips and pink M&M's than you think you will actually use.  The recipe may call for only a pound, but that's just the candy that gets mixed into the cookie dough.  Once the cookies have been scooped out, you'll want to press a few extra chips and M&M's into the tops of the cookies so that they bake up all pretty.  And while you're mixing up the cookies, waiting for the dough to chill, scooping them out, and decorating them with extra chips and M&M's, it's almost inevitable that you will end up snacking on more candy than you will ever want to admit.  If this somehow doesn't end up happening to you, then you have more self restraint than I will probably ever have, and I applaud you for that.  

If you're in need of a recipe for a kid's Valentine's Day party at school, or a Valentine's Day bake sale, then this is the recipe for you!  Coincidentally, I am actually baking up a second batch of these cookies for my dad to bring to work this Friday.  His office has organized a charity bake sale to run on Friday, where all the proceeds will be donated to Wigs for Kids, an organization that works to help children who are suffering from hair loss due to major health problems.  He asked if I could make him some cookies to bring in for the bake sale, and I immediately said yes.  It sounds like such a great cause!  I knew I wanted to make these cookies because they're a perfect bake sale cookie.  They can be easily mixed up and baked in advance, and the cookies actually taste better as time goes on.  No matter what bake sale or party you bring these cookies to, they'll definitely be a hit with kids and adults alike!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe inspired from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still slightly cold
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring
16 ounces white chocolate chips and M&M's, mixed (plus extra for topping the cookies)


In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder whisking to combine.  Set aside. 

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars until they are just combined. Add the buttermilk and vinegar, mixing to combine.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat in well after each addition.  Add the vanilla and food coloring and mix just until the red color is evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.

Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and add about half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing for about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining dry ingredients, and mix only until just combined. Make sure you don't overmix!  

Fold in the chocolate chips and M&M's.  Tightly cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the cookie dough for six hours (or more, if you have time!). 

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.  Using a cookie scoop, portion out scoops of cookie dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them about two inches apart from each other on all sides.   Press a few extra white chocolate chips and M&M's onto the tops of the cookie balls.  

Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking trays before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely (although you should definitely make sure to enjoy at least one, if not more, fresh from the oven). Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies


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