Red Velvet Cookies (Sans Food Coloring)

I see lit Christmas trees through the windows of my neighbor's homes. I'm writing outrageous amounts of PMs (Peppermint Mochas) on the red seasonal hot cups at work. The trees are officially naked, and my bike is taking a vacation in the basement (tears). The blankets have emerged and my cat is enticing me to procrastinate with snuggles galore. 

Tomorrow I begin-dare I say it-WINTER trimester. On a positive note, I'll be on a plane home in T-18 days, and for that I cannot wait. Meanwhile, excuse me while I sulk in Macroeconomics and AccountingII textbooks. 

I can do this. Just 18 days till I can hug my favorite pup, see the palm trees, and breathe in the fresh scent of home. 

Perhaps the last bay run of the year, winter is-a-comin'.
I'm kicking off holiday posts with cookies. My favorite kind of cookies are the ones with the perfectly soft interior, but slightly crispy exterior. The kind that leave you laughing with someone about your fancy powdered sugar stash. The cookies that are perfectly sweet, but not tooth-ache sweet. The cookies that are made with...root vegetables?

I've heard a lot of rumors about food coloring, none of which I claim as true or false. Red coloring is made of little red bugs. Coloring makes children hyper. Coloring causes birth defects. Really, I don't know what the great inventors of food coloring are up to, but I do know that I can avoid the drama and create my own natural red coloring. So if you are anti-food coloring, curious, or a beet-enthusiast, here's your ticket out of the mess. Although, I will tell you the truth, beets are no clean deal (wear an apron). 

Do these cookies taste like beets? Yes and no. Here is how our taste buds detect the flavor of these cookies: first you get sweet powdered sugar, then you get just a hint of beet, then cocoa. It's like putting beets in disguise, even the most stubborn beet-haters could be fooled into liking these cookies (or these chocolate beet cupcakes). Take this challenge, show the anti-beet groups what they are missing. If I can make it through another harsh winter, trust me, you can do this. 

Red Velvet Cookies (Vegan)
Yield: 30 small cookies
Adapted from: alimentageuse

Click here for full printable recipe

  • 1/4 cup earth balance, cold
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar 
  • 3/4 cup fresh beet puree
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar (or white distilled vinegar)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup natural cocoa powder (not dutch process)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar 
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a separate, large bowl use an electric mixer with a paddle to cream the Earth Balance and the sugar. Then, mix in the beat puree, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. 
  3. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture in three stages. When the dough gets thick, use your hands the knead it until the flour is fully incorporated. 
  4. Press the dough into a disc and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. 
  5. When firm, prepare a sheet pan with parchment or a silpat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6.  Place powdered sugar into a small bowl. Roll all of the dough into 1" balls before submerging in powdered sugar (the sugar dissolves if it sits on the cookies for too long). Only cover the cookies in sugar that you can fit on the sheet pan to bake immediately, save the remaining pre-rolled dough in the refrigerator until the first batch of cookies are done baking. 
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes. When done, remove immediately from sheet pan and let cool on a wire rack. 

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Maira Gall