Other than my weakness for Pillsbury Funfetti cake, Red Velvet is my favorite cake. It is also frequently requested by co-workers for their birthdays, but I try to change it up a bit, so whenever I see variations of this baked item I must try it out. Although these cookies tasted wonderful, the signature red velvet flavor was just slightly off. Where is the buttermilk? The addition of powdered buttermilk (suggested in Rodney’s comment on the original recipe) may be the final touch to make these taste more like the cake. Unfortunately I did not read that comment until these were already in the oven. Alas, next time. But they still hold their own without, and they are pretty!
Definitely use red paste of gel for the food coloring. In the cake you can get away with liquid because the batter is, well, liquidy. But shortbread doughs are dry in comparison and the thicker consistency allows you to stay true to the shortbread.
1-1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1 Tbsp red food coloring paste or gel
3 oz white chocolate (with cocoa butter), coarsely chopped
1-1/2 tsp shortening
Festive sprinkles, nonpareils or chopped nuts (I chose pecans)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter and food coloring until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together (it will take a while for the dough to come together – you could also use a food processor).
Scoop dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until nearly smooth.
Roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a floured cookie cutter in your desired shape, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press scraps together and re-roll.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until centers are set. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip half of each cookie into melted chocolate. If desired, sprinkle with festive sprinkles, nonpareils or chopped nuts. Let stand on waxed paper until set.
I think these would also be cute as heart cut-out for Valentine’s Day, complete with festive sprinkles.