Pink Chocolate Surprise Cookies (also known as the cookies that can’t be “beet”)

Sorry if the title of this post made you groan, I can never resist the opportunity to insert a bad food pun.

Since Valentine’s Day is officially in…3 minutes, I figured I’d better keep blogging about all my holiday-themed treats in what appears to be a V-Day baking post marathon.

These cookies.  Wow.  Earlier this week I was perusing the pages of Tastespotting trying to get inspired for my Valentine’s Day baking.  I stumbled on a picture of these cookies, and was immediately drawn to the vibrant hue of the dessert.  Now you must understand that in my baking this week I challenged myself to one task: using beets as a natural dye in a dessert.  You see, I’d been considering making red velvet something-or-anothers for a few weeks, but had always been turned off by my memories of awful tasting red artificial colouring.  When I read that beets were a great replacement for all that fake stuff, I was a little hesitant.  Sure, beets are great in borscht and in other main meal things, but could they really be used in a dessert?

The answer was an overwhelming “yes.”

When I found this recipe I decided I was going to go all out with the beet colouring.  Remember, I’m trying to be brave with this food exploration thing, and this was another big step for me.  Since I was going to make my own beet puree to use in the cookies, I decided the easiest thing for me to do would be to buy canned (but NOT pickled, this is very important!!) beets at the grocery store.  This way I could smartly avoid any time wasted chopping, peeling, and dying my hands a bright shade of magenta.  In the end, it was kind of fun to make my own puree in our food processor.  It turned out looking like some sort of blood-red applesauce, and added the best natural colouring to these cookies.

So how did they turn out?

Well they were AWESOME!  Okay, I know cookies are never healthy, but think about it.  These have vegetables in them and no butter (normally a bad thing, but it worked out in this case).  I guess I’m in a “put vegetables in my desserts” phase after my chocolate zucchini cake, but the trend seems to be working out for me.  My cookies actually turned out to have more of a cake-like whoopie pie consistency, which gave them a perfect chewable quality.  Even my roommate Amanda who is the pickiest eater EVER liked them, although she did initially wrinkle her nose when I told her about the “surprise ingredient.”  I found the beets added almost a sweet after taste to the cookie, enough to keep the eater guessing as to where the great flavour came from.  And of course, they were pink, which is all I really wanted in the first place.

PS: I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before, but isn’t using coloured paper as the backdrop for my food pictures a wonderful idea?!  I have so, so, so much coloured paper, so this gives me an additional place to use it.  To take my pictures I simply line our world atlas with paper, prop it up against the window sill with my hip, and photograph my heart out.

Recipe: Pink Chocolate Surprise Cookies
Adapted from Making Food and Other Stuff

– 2 1/4 cup flour
– 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 cup of beets, pureed (see instructions below)
– 3 tbsp canola oil
–  1 1/2 tsp vanilla
– 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
– 1/4 cup white chocolate chips

Whisk dry ingredients together in a big bowl.  Make a well in the centre and add the beet puree, vanilla and oil.  Mix with a wooden spoon to combine.  Add chocolate chips and mix well.  Drop tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until the top of the cookie springs back with your touch.  Makes 24 cookies.

Beet puree
Drain a 398 mL can of sliced beets (make sure they’re not pickled beets), keeping the liquid from the can in a separate bowl.  Put the beets into a food processor and add 7 1/2 tbsp of the liquid.  Pulse beets in food processor until they have an applesauce-like consistency.  If the puree is still too thick, add another tablespoon of the liquid.


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