Food & Drink

Make your hungry valentine red velvet ‘Oreos’ and more

The jury seems to be out on Oreo’s limited-edition red velvet-flavored sandwich cookie, which launched in time for Valentine’s Day and hit local grocers’ shelves earlier this month.

But red velvet itself is red hot.

With origins dating to World War II but typically considered a Southern dessert — blame the famous “bleedin’ armadillo” groom’s cake in Steel Magnolias — the classic chocolatey-crimson cake layered with cream cheese icing continues to gain passionate fans.

Now there are 50 more ways to indulge in retro red velvet, thanks to the new Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook (Harvard Common Press, $17.95). It’s the first cookbook from writer Deborah Harroun, whose “red velvet week” of recipes is now in its fifth year on her popular blog, Taste and Tell.

Those recipes inspired the book, which offers red velvet bliss in the form of cupcakes, pancakes, whoopie pies, eclairs, truffles, crepes, cannoli, doughnuts (both baked and fried) and even churros with red velvet hot chocolate. Harroun also includes her own version of the red velvet “Oreo.”

“Everybody loves a sandwich cookie,” she says, adding that she has tried Oreo’s version and thinks it’s the closest to tasting like actual red velvet than any other commercially-baked adaptation of the flavor she’s tried.

But what exactly is red velvet?

“Some people think it’s just chocolate-flavored and red,” Harroun says. “It’s not an easy flavor to describe, but I always say it’s a tangy buttermilk flavor with a hint of cocoa. It doesn’t have a lot of chocolate.”

All of Harroun’s recipes require red liquid food coloring to achieve red velvet’s signature dark ruby hue, but Harroun provides suggestions in the book for natural substitutes, noting that they may alter the flavor.

Stock up on cocoa powder, buttermilk and plenty of cream cheese and make your darling a dessert he or she won’t forget.

Valentine’s Week!

Feb. 4: Unique gifts and experiences

Feb. 5: Noncandy alternatives for kids

Sunday: A romantic proposal-moon

Tuesday: Plan a family date night

Wednesday: Red velvet indulgences to make

Saturday: Inspiration from celebrity weddings

Molten lava cakes

Makes 4

Deborah Harroun says these hot molten lava cakes, which ooze with red velvet decadence, are requested by her husband in place of birthday cake each year. Bake them right before serving for a molten wave of volcanic proportions. For a moist cake without the lava, just bake a few minutes more until cooked through.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

4 ounces white chocolate

1 cup powdered sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon red liquid food coloring

2 teaspoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Raspberries or sliced strawberries, for serving

1. Set a rack in the center position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray four 6-ounce ramekins generously with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Melt the butter and white chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. When completely melted, stir in the powdered sugar.

3. Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Stir in the red food coloring and melted chocolate mixture.

4. Whisk the cocoa and flour in a small bowl to combine. Add to the batter and stir just until combined.

5. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until the sides of the cakes are set but the centers are still soft, 14 to 15 minutes. Let the cakes rest for 2 minutes, then invert them onto dessert plates.

6. Serve the cakes immediately, dusted with powdered sugar and with berries on the side.

Nutritional analysis per cake: 776 calories, 61 grams fat, 56 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams protein, 336 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber and 68 percent of calories from fat.

— “Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook”

Red velvet waffles

Serves 6

These red velvet waffles are just one of several breakfast recipes in the book, including pancakes with cream cheese drizzle, French toast with caramel syrup and breakfast biscuits with chocolate gravy. Whip out the waffle iron and make them for your sweetheart, or yourself, for a Valentine’s Day morning treat.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

3 large eggs, separated

2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon red liquid food coloring

1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees and heat a waffle iron. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl to combine.

2. Combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a separate large bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks and buttermilk. Mix the cocoa powder and red food coloring in a small bowl to make a smooth paste, then whisk the paste into the butter mixture. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened (the batter should be slightly lumpy).

3. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining egg whites gently but thoroughly.

4. Spray a waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray or brush with melted butter. Cook the waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. As they’re done, put them on a baking sheet and slide them into the oven to keep them warm while you cook the remaining waffles.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 316 calories, 11 grams fat, 43 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams protein, 130 milligrams cholesterol, 594 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber and 33 percent of calories from fat.

— “Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook”

Red velvet ‘Oreos’

Makes 24 cookies

“My grandma had a cookie jar shaped like a dog that always sat on her counter. She wasn’t much of a baker, but there were always Double Stuf Oreos in that dog,” Harroun says. The thick cookies with fluffy filling inspired her red velvet version here. “Food and memories are always the best combination.”

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1 cup sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tablespoon red liquid food coloring

For the filling:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon hot water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To make the cookies: Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Whisk the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl to combine. Beat the sugar and butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and food coloring. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together.

3. Form the dough into balls (about 1 tablespoon each) and place the dough balls at least 3 inches apart on the baking sheets. Flatten the balls slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass. Bake until the edges start setting, 7 to 8 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

4. To make the filling: Beat the powdered sugar, shortening, butter, water, and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

5. Place the filling in a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Turn half the cookies over and pipe about 1 teaspoon of the filling onto the flat side of each cookie. Place another cookie on top of the filling, flat side down. Lightly press the cookies together to spread out the filling. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Nutritional analysis per cookie: 210 calories, 12 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 84 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber and 52 percent of calories from fat.

— “Red Velvet Lover’s Cookbook”

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