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.
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.