Perhaps I shouldn’t call these deconstructed cupcakes as much as reconstructed cupcakes. Imagine a red velvet cupcake taken apart and remade into a sandwich so that not only can you easily hold it in hand, but there’s some of the gorgeous cream cheese frosting in every bite (a dream come true for frosting lovers like me!) I have been perseverating on these little beauties and looking for a good excuse to make them ever since Nicole first posted them on bakingsheet earlier in the month under the name of “Red Velvet Cake Sandwich Cookies”. As she warned in her post, though, despite the name, these are most definitely cakey (like a whoopie pie, to give New Englanders a point of reference), and really not at all like traditional sandwich cookies.
I feel a little guilty taking her recipe and reposting it so soon after it was first put online, but if it spreads the word about how amazingly good these are and motivates a few more people to make them, I think it’s worth a twinge of guilt. Red velvet is certainly the trendiest of cake flavors at the moment- ubiquitous on cupcake shop menus and nearly always sold out. The New York Times even did a whole spread on red velvet cake for Valentine’s Day (recipe for cake and icing). In my mind, the appeal is the hint of cocoa flavor, the oodles of cream cheese frosting, and maybe even the vibrant color.
This recipe offers a good, basic cake and frosting. The cake is soft and moist while the cream cheese frosting is rich and creamy without being cloyingly sweet. Were I to do it again, I might increase the food coloring to make them a little more red as the color dulls while baking; these turned out to be sort of a mellow medium brown with a tinge of red. The other thing that’s worth noting is that although the original recipe said it would make 40 cookies (or 20 sandwich cookies), somehow I only managed half that number (even though I followed directions!), leaving me with a grand total of 10 sandwich cookies to take to the Oscar party we were attending last night. Thinking that was a little skimpy, I decided it was probably wisest to just leave them at home (wouldn’t want them to run out and have upset guests) and devour them ourselves over the next few days. So I guess the unexpectedly small batch size wasn’t such a problem after all. 🙂
Deconstructed red velvet cupcakes (from bakingsheet; makes 20 large sandwich cookies)
Ingredients for cake:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp buttermilk (I omitted this and they were fine)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp red food coloring (more, if necessary)
Ingredients for filling:
4 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract (vanilla paste is even better)
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or use Silpat). In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in the egg whites, followed by the applesauce, buttermilk, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add additional coloring, if needed, to reach desired color. Stir in flour mixture until batter is smooth and no streaks of flour remain.
2. Drop batter two tablespoonfuls at a time onto the prepared baking sheet, forming 2-inch in diameter rounds.
Bake for 10 minutes, until set but not browned. Cookies should spring back when lightly touched, like a cake.
Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then gently remove to a wire rack to cool completely
3. Beat together mascarpone and cream cheese until well combined. Beat in vanilla and milk. Add in confectioners sugar, scraping down the bowl as you go. When it has all been incorporated, beat on high speed for 1-2 minutes, until icing is very smooth and thick, but not stiff. Add more confectioners sugar, if necessary. Spread filling between pairs of cooled cookies.