Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies

SO CONFUSED.

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Is there such a thing as “normal”? No, right? And if there is, everyone has their own version of normal. So it’s not like every.single.person can fit into one person’s idea of normal. So while one person might have certain standards of normal, that cannot be said for everyone else on the planet because everyone’s normal is different. So no. There is no such thing as a universal “normal”. You picking up what I’m putting down?

I’m tired.

There are moments in my life that I’m not my normal or usual self. I mean, there are times, when out in public, that you need to “up your game” so to speak. When you are meeting with higher-ups at work. When you’re at a fancy-dancy restaurant. When you meet new people for the first time. When meeting with these certain people, it’s not the best time to start spewing your thoughts on why it’s impossible to find a decent cookie in New York City that is under $4, or that you just had the BEST Cacio e Pepe in your ENTIRE life this past weekend and you CANNOT deal. Nor can you burst into tears when you explain that you just finished binge-watching Sons of Anarchy and you are feeling EVERYTHING. OMGJAXWHAT. OMGWHATDIDIJUSTWATCH?! *tears* *breakdown*

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But there are times when my true neurotic self does make an appearance. It happens. For example, it’s impossible for me to *just* bake something. If I’m making something for the first time, and I bring it to work for people to try, or have my husband try it, I just can’t let them be. I’m all up in their face about it.

“How does it taste?!” “Do you like the texture?” “Are you getting all the flavors?” “Is there anything you would add/change?”  All while making creepy and constant eye contact with them.

I’m a gem.

I’m surprised they still eat the things I make knowing that they’re most like going to get bombarded with questions like they’re going on trial.

When I brought these cookies into work for people to try, this exact thing happened. Why? BECAUSE THESE ARE NOT NORMAL COOKIES. Regardless if there’s not a “universal” definition of normal or not. Because these cookies? They’re not. I don’t care.

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They’re cake mix cookies. Have you guys heard of these? You take regular boxed cake mix, mix in some oil and eggs, and instead of baking them as cakes, you make cookies. BOOM. Instant cookies. For this little adventure, I went with red velvet. Because, yes.

SO CONFUSED. These cookies. I can’t wrap my mind around them. When I made them and tried one  after they had cooled a bit, I was so thrown off. It was crispy on the edges and totally tasted like the edges of a freshly baked cake. You know what I mean, right? The slightly crispy edges that pull away from the cake pan once it’s baked? You know. And while it was light a slightly cake-y, it was also dense and chewy at the same time. I took a bite and just stood there staring at the rest of the cookie in my hand for about 5 minutes trying to process everything. My husband couldn’t quite get it either. I mean, they are physically cookies, but so different than when I make a chocolate chip cookie or any other type of cookie.

The flavor though? Spot on. I mean, obviously. They use cake batter. It really was like eating a slice of red velvet cake. And the white chocolate chips were the perfect sweet compliment. Plus I love how they look. It reminds me of cream cheese frosting you would find on a traditional cake.

But not normal.

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I brought them to work the next day and made people try them. I prefaced with the fact that these were different cookies than I normally make and if they don’t like them that could be why, blah blah blah. I don’t know why I can’t just let people enjoy cookies without a whole warning. Let people live, Deanna.

Everyone thought they were delicious and that there were no problems with them. When I kept asking “but aren’t they different?!?!!?” they kinda just looked at me, shrugged their shoulders and walked away. (It happens to me a lot.)

I decided to give them another shot and OMG the texture was different! The edges weren’t crispy, but everything was soft, dense, and chewy. I was pretty obsessed!! The same thing happens to cake too, though. Once it’s baked and stored in a container, everything settles and it becomes softer, more moist, and delicious. So it does make some sense.

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It’s literally a cake in a cookie form. There are aspects of both that, when combined, make the most not normal cookie I’ve had in a while. I think you guys should absolutely make these. While they’re so different, I think I’m kinda in love with them? They’re also the easiest things ever. Mix all the ingredients together, let it chill in the fridge (but just for a little bit!!), bake, and you have cookies. Take a night, make them, and let me what YOU think!! I need more opinions. And hello…do you see how thick they bake up?!

I don’t know why I’m freaking out about this, but I am. This is the life I have now. Where I sit and freak out over a cookie’s texture. Send help.

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Or just send more cookies.

***

Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies

Recipe by: Just a Taste

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines. It was their 16.5oz box)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used a mix of vegetable oil and canola oil because I didn’t have enough vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup of white chocolate chips (you can totally use regular chocolate chips, but I love the contract of color with the white)

Directions:

  • Set oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or simply spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a bow of a stand mixer, or using a wooden spoon, mix together the cake mix, eggs, and oil until fully combined. Mix in white chocolate chips.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Once it’s time to bake the cookies, scoop cookie dough (about 2 tablespoons) onto the baking sheet. Bake anywhere between 10-13 minutes. I baked mine for 12 and thought the texture was perfect. They might still look soft when you take them out, but they’ll firm up as they cool.
  • Let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
  • Store in an airtight container.

 

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Red Velvet Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I gotta tell ya. I would be COMPLETELY fine with winning the lottery.

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You always hear stories about past lottery winners and how it ruined their lives, and now they have no more money, and they just wish things were back to the way it used to be before they won.

Umm..what? I can’t speak from experience, but I’m preeeeetty sure I would rock that. Every time I have a day off, or a long weekend, or even better, a whole WEEK off, I am as happy as a clam. (btw: I just looked what the meaning of that phrase was because, while I use it all the time, I never understood why clams are always so happy. Apparently, the whole phrase is “happy as a clam at high tide.” Meaning: Hide tide is when clams are free from the attentions of predators; surely the happiest of times in the bivalve mollusc world). Surely.

Learn something new everyday. Just think of all the new things I could learn in my free time if I won the lottery!

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I have a wonderful 9-5 job that let’s me earn a paycheck while still allowing me to live the life I want to live. Once I leave work, I don’t check email, I don’t have people calling my cell phone, I don’t bring home work with me. Once I’m out of the office, I’m cut off. Nights and weekends are free to do what I please. The thing I’ve always said about myself is that I work to live. I don’t live to work. While I understand the importance of having a job, I’ve never had a true connection to it.

Growing up, I never knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. I still don’t. I never had that career ambition that some of my friends have. I’m more than happy going to my job, coming home, and not having it control my life. Some may find that a bit off-putting or not very ambitious, but I never want my job to define me.  My job is what I do, not who I am.

However, it’s things I do outside of work that I find I’m most passionate and ambitious about. There is nothing I love more than being home and having the whole day to bake and cook. That’s where I’m truly happy and passionate. My brain starts churning and I can’t wait to create delicious and decadent meals and treats. Instead of having a corner office on the 50th floor of a high rise, I consider my kitchen my own little corner office.

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I could literally be the quintessential 1950’s housewife. Minus the whole birthing and raising of the children thing, I could totally be happy staying home all day cooking and baking.* I’m not saying this is ideal for every woman but I could do this and be completely happy. It would also give me more time to turn this blog into something bigger and better, which is a top goal I have.

But the connection to work is important, because without that steady paycheck, I wouldn’t be able to do the things I’m passionate about. (Umm..baking is expensive! I can’t even [nor would I want to] fathom the amount of money I constantly spend on flours, sugars, eggs, butter, etc.)

So, obviously, the only solution that allows me quit my job, but still earn money so that I can stay home and cook and bake all day? LOTTERY.

Need proof that I would use all my time off wisely? Well, you’re looking at it. The last time I was home all day, I made these brownies. Enough said.

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Besides my chocolate chip cookies, this has been one of the most constant desserts to come out of my kitchen. They are my boyfriend’s favorite and I just recently made these for him for Valentine’s Day. I mean, what’s not to love here?

In this dessert there is a delicious, chewy, moist (#sorryimnotsorry), fudgy red velvet brownie that has a wonderfully tasty and simple cream cheese swirl mixed throughout. Want some brownies but are also in the mood for cheesecake? BOOM. Here you have both. No need to choose.

In the mood for a red velvet cake with cream cheese icing but don’t want to be bothered with making a nice, tall, layer cake? BOOM. All the flavors of that cake here in an easy brownie form.

There is a reason that the cream cheese icing and red velvet combination works so well. The tangyness (is that a word? probably not being that I have the red squiggly line underneath it as I type this) from the cream cheese pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the red velvet brownie.

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This recipe is quickly becoming one of my favorites as well. And while it has 2 different components, it couldn’t be simpler. The brownies come together quickly in one bowl and the cream cheese swirl just takes a quick mix in your mixer. (“mix in your mixer”? Ugh, I need a thesaurus)

Once your brownie mixture is done, place 3/4 of the batter into your prepared pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top, and finally dollop the remaining brownie batter on top of the cream cheese mixture. Take a butter knife and swirl the layers together. Try not to over-do the swirling. I like to have big swirls of cream cheese throughout the brownies. No fuss. No complicated technique. Simple ingredients and techniques that end up creating a more than extraordinary dessert.

If you are a fan of the traditional red velvet cake with cream cheese icing, this recipe is sure to please. Still on the fence about the whole red cake thing? Give this recipe a shot. It may just be the recipe to sway you to red velvet love.

(That sounds dirty)

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*along with, of course, vacations around the world. I’m not that out of my mind..

*****

RED VELVET CREAM CHEESE SWIRL BROWNIES

(Recipe by: Sally’s Baking Addiction)

INGREDIENTS:

Red Velvet Brownies

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 3/4 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake Swirl

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line an 8×8 baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Make the brownie layer first. In a small bowl, beat the 2 eggs together. Set aside. Melt the butter in a large microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until melted. Stir in 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar. Mix each of those ingredients into the batter in that order. Whisk in the eggs, then fold in the flour until completely incorporated. Do not overmix. Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter into prepared baking pan, leaving the remainder for the top.
  3. Make the cheesecake swirl. In a mixer on medium speed, beat the softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl until completely smooth – about 1 minute. Dollop spoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture on top of the prepared brownie batter. Cover with the remaing brownie batter. Slide a knife through the layers, creating a swirl pattern.
  4. Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover brownies and store at room temperature for 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 6 days. Brownies will freeze well, up to 2 months.

Brown Butter Red Velvet Brownies

Ok, enough with the (semi) healthy blog items. Just give me the butter and sugar.

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Full disclosure: this recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, and 2 1/2 sticks of butter. There. I said it. Out loud. Let’s just put our stretchy pants on and march forward.

I’m all about the classic desserts. We live in a world filled with fancy French macaroons, cronuts, tortes, and crazy pastries. But give me a classic chocolate chip cookie (think and chewy!) or a brownie (thick and fudgy!) and I’m one happy girl.

I also live with my boyfriend who has a deep and true love for anything and everything red velvet. Whenever I ask him what I should make next, about 95% of the time, his response is “red velvet cheesecake brownies!”

What should I make for breakfast? “Red velvet pancakes!”

What kind of cookies should I make? “Red velvet cookies!”

What should I make for dinner? “Red velvet chicken!” You get the idea.

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His favorite thing I’ve ever made are the previously mentioned Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies. The man L-O-V-E-S them. But I wanted to do something a little more classic. None of the extra’s. So how do I fulfill his need for red velvet, while satisfying my need for a classic dessert?

Red Velvet Brownies.

Naturally brown butter is in there as well, because the love I have for brown butter runs deeper than my boyfriend’s love of red velvet. Can’t fight a love quite like ours. If you have not yet baked with brown butter, stop reading right now and get to it. The smell is one of my favorite things. It’s so intoxicating! I wish someone (a lot less lazy than me) would bottle that up. I’d buy it.

And the flavor? GAH. I can’t even stand it. The depth and richness it gives to whatever you are making it with is unreal. Nutty and almost caramely. It’s insanely addictive and luscious. (Did I just describe butter as luscious?)

In conclusion: Brown Butter Red Velvet Brownies are the perfect compromise in our household.

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I kept debating about putting white chocolate chips in these. I put white chocolate chips in my red velvet cookies to mimic the cream cheese frosting that goes so well with red velvet. But, I eventually decided against it. I wanted something pure. I’ll save the chips for next time. Because there will definitely be a next time.

These red velvet brownies were based off one of my FAVORITEEEEE brownies (which I will share. Eventually.). The thickness and fudgyness that I absolutely adore in those brownies, truly comes through in these. I hate hate hate cakey brownies. If I want cakey brownies, I’d make a chocolate cake. But even then, I like some denseness to my cakes. I can’t help it.

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As always with red velvet, the slight flavor of the cocoa powder comes through without overpowering the sweet vanilla flavor. Red velvet is the perfect flavor for indecisive people like myself. Can’t decide between chocolate or vanilla? Make some red velvet. It’s the best of both worlds.

I used a full 2 tablespoons of liquid red food coloring, but feel free to add more or less. I know people get weird when it comes to using liquid red food dye, but I’ve never thought twice about. If you would like to use gel food coloring instead of the liquid kind, go crazy 🙂

I made these before heading to dinner with a dear, dear friend of mine. I gave her and her fiance a box of them and I received this message shortly after I got home: “I couldn’t resist (even on a fully belly of Greek food) and had a few bites of one. They are dynamite!”

Can’t argue with that 🙂

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Whoops 😉

…..

BROWN BUTTER RED VELVET BROWNIES

(Recipe by: Something Swanky)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 sticks salted butter (I used unsalted)
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and lining with parchment paper (important so they don’t stick!).
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Stir constantly until butter has reached a light brown color and little “bits” have formed. It can be difficult to see the color of the butter as it foams a bit, so you can also go by smell (it will be very fragrant, smelling almost like caramel).
  4. Pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer (no need to cool). Add the sugar and cocoa powder and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between each addition until almost creamy.
  5. Add the salt, buttermilk, red food coloring, and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour mix well. Batter will be thick.
  7. Spread batter in the 9×13 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs on it.
  8. Let cool, then cut into squares to serve.