red velvet cookies with cream cheese centers

December 22, 2011

I am not usually one to make overly cheesy holiday cookies. I am a strong believer that anything with too much red and green dye just cannot be that tasty. I mean don’t get me wrong, I am all for sprinkles and cheer and I love a good n’ festive cookie platter but try as I might, I always find myself on the understated yet elegant Christmas cookie route. Elegance is super boring and overrated. I know.

This brings me to my point which was to profess my love for the best taste combination ever created a.k.a. red velvet anything with cream cheese frosting. What could be better? The best thing ever in BITE SIZE COOKIE FORM.

With holiday cookie time in full effect this cookie is the answer to all most of your problems [those presents are wrapping themselves!] and they are just festive enough to find themselves at home on dessert buffets everywhere.

Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Centers
Makes about 4 dozen

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring

For the cream cheese frosting:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 and line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl beat the butter and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the food coloring and mix until the color is even and no streaks remain. Working in batches add the flour mixture and stir until incorporated. Roll dough into 1-inch round balls and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Make an indent into each ball using the end of a wooden spoon. Bake for 12 minutes and let cool on a rack.

To make the filling, beat all the ingredients together in a medium bowl until smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a pastry bag filled with a small round tip. Pipe the filling into the center of each cooled cookie. Feed to Santa immediately and store the rest in an airtight container.


Just because I can, I would like to share our holiday card from 1991. This was taken on our vacation to Disneyland a.k.a. what you can guess was my favorite family vacation ever.

I think I may have been the only child who wanted nothing to do with the actual theme park and was perfectly happy spending the entire time picking out neon pencil cases from the gift shop. Can we please go back to the hotel and swim in the pool now? Then watch cable? I want to go home.

Also this picture is one of the many reasons I think people have children – to use them to produce hilarious Christmas cards filled with subtle humor that they will only understand to be funny many years later. Awesome.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Sidra December 22, 2011 at 9:52 am

Oh wow, I love little Lillie soo much!! And I want to eat at least ten of those cookies. 🙂


Lillie December 22, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Ha! We are cut from the same cloth as I may have eaten 10 already myself…


Emily B. December 22, 2011 at 9:56 am

Do you still have that amazing fannypack?! Um… halloween 2012?


Lillie December 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I wish I still did ! I would bring back the 101 Dalmatians fannypack for sure!


Natalie December 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

I would seriously pay you cash money to ship those cookies from Seattle!! Also, that Xmas card is phenomenal (and, yes, def having a kid primarily for my entertainment purposes).


Lillie December 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Yes! Oh I can’t wait to see baby T’s first holiday card! 🙂


Catherine December 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Since it’s snowing like mad here and I happen to have 3 boxes of neufchatel in the fridge, I’m totally making these cookies. They will enhance my cookie tray nicely. Thanks for the idea and I have to agree – Disneyland is overrated – but I do hope you still have the Mickey Mouse hat.


Lillie December 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

These are the perfect thing to make on a snowy afternoon!


Rachel January 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I made these and they came out amazing! Crowd pleaser 😀


Lillie January 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm

yay! so happy to hear!


jenn February 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

what’s the consistency of these? crunchy or soft/flaky? Also, do you think this batter will hold its shape if the balls were pinched into hearts for v-day, or would they end up circles when cooked anyway?


Lillie February 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The cookies are quite sturdy – think of a rolled sugar cookie consistency – and I think they would be great v-day cookies. I would LOVE to see the finished product!


jenn February 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm

well I’ll try my best, but I can’t promise photos like yours 🙂

One more question: What kind of unsweetened cocoa did you use? I use Droste unsweetened cocoa and I’m Just wondering if the red will come through enough since it’s on the darker side.

Also, if I did want these a bit more chewy than stiff/flaky, do you have any suggestions/adaptations?


Lillie February 5, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I think I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa in the batch above, and I would maybe add a touch more food coloring to get deeper color. The cookies as is have a slight chew to them, but I would suggest under baking them by 2-3 minutes which should help. Happy baking!!


marcella July 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm

If I were going to send these as presents, would the cream cheese center be firm enough to hold hold it’s shape or would I have to find special packaging? How long do they last once made? Thanks!


Lillie July 31, 2012 at 11:06 pm

The centers are fairly firm but because they are made with cream cheese I wouldn’t suggest them as a treat to be mailed. They would be fine for several hours at room temp but should be refrigerated overnight. I think the midnight black cocoa brownies, lemondoodles, or fig crumble bars would be hold up better in a mailing. 🙂


marcella August 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Thank you Lillie. Some I could hand deliver. Would they stay fresh for a few days after delivery?


Lillie August 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Of course! Yes, they will definitely keep for a several days. Enjoy!


Donna October 17, 2012 at 8:31 pm

I’m thinking of making these for my sister’s birthday. She love red velvet, but not cream cheese. I’m going to try putting white chocolate Hershey Kisses in them. Wish me luck!


Lillie October 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

Good luck! I’m sure they will turn out fabulous. I’m imagining a twist on peanut butter blossoms. 🙂 You could also roll the dough in sugar first and then press in a white chocolate kiss for a little extra sparkle. Happy baking!!


Crystal Dittrick December 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Can these be frozen…i.e. made a few weeks ahead of time for Christmas and stored?


Lillie December 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Hi! I think the cookies should freeze fine. I would shape the dough, freeze them on a sheet until firm, then transfer to a ziplock bag for up to several weeks in the freezer. When you want cookies, just space them evenly on a sheet and add a few more minutes to the baking time. I’d recommend making the cream cheese mixture and filling them the day of or night before serving. And once filled, I’d store in the fridge. Happy holiday baking!!


Sandra December 15, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Did you use AP or SR flour? (Just realized I posted on the wrong one a few min ago.but it was intended for this recipe only) sigh…


Lillie December 16, 2012 at 12:31 am

Hi Sandra! I used all-purpose for this recipe. 🙂 Happy baking!!


merriam February 17, 2013 at 8:09 pm

hi! i really want to make these cookies because they are a really cute and fun alternative to serving red velvet cake. but i only have sweetened cocoa versus the needed unsweetened cocoa and i was wondering how much powdered sugar i would have to cut back if i use the sweetened cocoa powder for this recipe. please, if you have any idea, get back to me soon because i am dying to make these!


Zub July 22, 2014 at 10:12 am

Awesome recipe! Tried making it recently to celebrate Eid and it turned up looking and tasting yummy. My boys kept going to the fridge to eat them. Tks so much.


Lillie July 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Yay! So happy to hear it was a hit!


Kali February 13, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Alright so I’ve made these twice and they’re delicious, however the name is a misnomer these are NOT red velvet. They are just red. There’s absolutely no red velvet taste. There’s no buttermilk in this recipe, no vinegar, nothing. They taste like a red cookie with a dollop of frosting. Be aware fellow bakers, just because it’s red doesn’t mean it’s red velvet.


Mary Ellen September 14, 2015 at 9:39 am

Could you bake the cookies and freeze? Just the cookie part and then when ready to use defrost and then fill?


Mallory December 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

I just made these and I am disappointed. I followed the recipe exactly as is and the cookie turned out to have no taste. The recipe calls for 1 cup powdered sugar and it should be regular sugar or half white and half brown.


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