I have never quite understood the fascination with Red Velvet, it’s just chocolate cake with red food coloring, folks. However if we are talking strictly aesthetics, I completely agree. Red wins over brown any day. Why bake a boring brown chocolate cake when a ruby toned pièce de résistance takes no more work than adding a couple dozen drops of Red No. 40? Well maybe that’s precisely why, food coloring is not exactly good for us. So, I decided to test the color power of artificial coloring vs. a natural coloring made from beets and carrots.
Going in, I was hopeful that the natural dye would come out bright and beautiful. I was reminded of the time I dyed my hair red in junior high to mimic Angela Chase’s vibrant hair color in My So Called Life. My hair just came out looking like a brassy version of Carrot Top’s orange afro and nothing like the color that caught Jordan Catalano’s steamy nonchalant gaze. Which didn’t really matter because there was not a single guy at my school that compared to the quiet alternative bad boy that 90s dreams were made of. Anyhow, in the case of the cookies, the natural dye was a win (unlike the horrifying shade or brass I rocked in 8th grade). The 14 year old girl in me hopes that Jordan would have been inspired to write an alt 90s rock song about these cookies but I am sure he would be way too cool for that.
Once the cookies baked up they were almost indistinguishable. Now that I have used the natural red color, I doubt I’ll ever go back. I should have known that a natural red (Clare Danes) is always better than brown posing as red (me, in 8th grade).
- unsalted butter at room temperature - 1 cup
- granulated sugar - 1 cup
- brown sugar - 1 cup
- eggs at room temperature - 2
- pure vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
- all-purpose flour - 3 cups
- baking soda - 1 teaspoon
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- cocao powder - 2/3 cup
- red food coloring (preferably natural) - 1 - 2 teaspoons (depening on food coloring)
- dark chocolate chips - 1/2 cup
- cocao nibs - 1/2 cup
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
- Cream butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.
- Slowly add one egg at a time. Followed by vanilla. Combine until smooth.
- Slowly add drops of red food coloring until desired color is reached. Keep in mind that the dough will look pretty pink at this point, once you add the cocoa the brown and pink will mix to create a richer red tone.
- Stir in cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt until just combined, scraping down the sides when needed. Fold in chocolate chips and cocoa nibs.
- Using an ice cream or cookie scoop to form 1"- 2" tablespoon balls of dough and arrange evenly on baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes.
- Might I suggest enjoying these cookies while watching a Netflix marathon of the 90s teen drama, My So Called Life.