Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sugar Cookie Hearts (Colored with Beets)

Happy Valentine's Day!





These fun little sugar cookies are colored not by red food coloring (which you can certainly substitute into the recipe), but by a secret ingredient:

Beets!
Roasted beet puree, to be exact.

I eat beets because they're so good for me, 
but I think they taste like dirt.  

And I'm very sensitive to their soil-y taste!

So please believe me when I tell you that you cannot detect the beets in these cookies.

If you want to use the beet puree, here's what to do to roast them:

Lop the top from the beet.

Peel it (this really helps diminish the dirt taste.)

Admire it.
 

Then wrap it in foil completely.
 

 
 And bake it for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees, 

until you can pierce it very easily with a fork.  

(You can cut it up if you want it to cook more quickly.)
 

Put it in the food processor or blender, and puree it.
(Add several tablespoons of water to help it become a very smooth puree.)
 

Voila.
 
You won't need the puree from a whole beet for this recipe 
(unless you want the cookies to be crazy red).

I used 4 tablespoons of the puree in these cookies 
and then froze the rest of the puree for future use in:

Pancakes
Waffles
Muffins
Cookies
Cupcakes

Pretty much any baked good that I want to be pink.

For this cookie recipe, as you prepare the dough, you'll cream 
together butter and sugar.  
Then you'll add an egg and mix well.
 

And then you'll add the beet puree to make it purdy!

Now here's a baking tip!

When you want to use cookie cutters on any dough, 
it's super important that the dough is very cold.  

(Otherwise you won't get crisp edges and the dough will stick to the cutter 
and you'll get super frustrated.)

So, we'll divide the dough in half, form it into flat discs, wrap it in plastic wrap or waxed paper, and refrigerate it for at least an hour (or freeze it for 30 minutes).

(Flat discs are the key here...not giant balls of dough.  It's easier to roll out a disc than to beat the heck out of the giant ball with your rolling pin, willing it to get roll-able.)

After the dough is chilled, prepare your work surface with a generous dusting of flour.

Grab your cookie cutter, and get to work.
(Cut out the cookies and quickly transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.)
 
You'll place the cut-out cookies in the freezer for a few minutes to harden them up again before baking.  

Annoying, yes, but it truly makes a difference.

See this mess?
An easy clean-up trick is to cover your working space 
with parchment paper (or waxed paper). 

Then you can just pick the whole thing up and 
dump it in the trash can when you're done.

I made a cream cheese filling to create a fun sandwich cookie.  
(The filling will eventually make the cookies soggy...
so don't assemble them too far in advance of serving time.)

Or you can serve them plain (very tasty, too!).  

Or dip half in chocolate.

I used a mini heart cookie cutter to make teensy cookie sandwiches.  The kids loved it!

I also did this.  

It's a versatile recipe.   

And it can't wait to be shared with those you love.

Enjoy celebrating your sweeties.

Here's the printable recipe.

Sugar Cookies (with Beet Puree)
(Yield depends on size of cookie cutter used*)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons pureed beet (or substitute red food coloring)
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Turn off mixer.  Add egg and beat on low speed for about one minute.  Then add the beet puree, one tablespoon at a time with mixer on medium speed, until desired color is reached.  (The dough will become more pinkish (and less red) after the flour is added...keep that in mind.)

Add milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well combined.  Then add the flour mixture.  Mix on low speed just until combined.  (Don't overmix.)

Lay out a two large sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap on a work surface.  Divide the dough in half, placing each half on one of the sheets of paper/wrap.  Form dough into flat discs (about 6-8 inches across and 1 inch thick) and cover well with the paper/wrap.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour (or freeze for 30 minutes). 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/8th-inch thickness.  Cut into desired shape and quickly transfer to baking sheets, leaving an inch between the cookies.  Place baking sheet in freezer for about 5 minutes to harden the cookies before baking.  
Bake cookies until puffed and lightly golden on the edges (about 10 minutes, depending on size of cookie cutter used).  Do not allow to brown.

Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Cream Cheese Filling 
(Makes about 1-1/4 cups)

1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, slightly softened (not hard as a rock but not melt-y, either)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup honey

Blend ingredients using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.  Refrigerate if too soft and then beat again. 

Assembly:
To assemble, sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous teaspoon or tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between.  (Amount of filling depends on size of cookie.*)

(Sorry to be ambiguous about the yield of this recipe.  I used a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter and ended up with around 3 dozen cookies.  I placed about two teaspoons of filling to make the "sandwiches".  The yield depends on the size of the cookie cutter.)

(Sugar cookie dough recipe (sans beets) adapted from MarthaStewart.com)

5 comments:

Stacy Ash said...

I just posted this to Pinterest - it's a GENIUS idea that needed to be shared!!! .. also, in one of the photos it looks like you have marble countertops. How fancy! ;)

Caneel said...

I love this!!!!

Tummy Belt said...

Using beets to color sugar cookies could be considered an interesting idea. Thank you for sharing.

Mary said...

How do you "store" your beet puree until you need it? Or do you puree fresh beets each time you need them?

Ginny said...

Hi Mary: I usually freeze it in 1 tablespoon increments (in an ice cube tray). Then I move the individual ice cubes of beet puree to a super-great freezer bag (or some other freezer-burn-proof container). I thaw what I need at room temperature or, if I'm in a hurry, in a small bowl over a pot of simmering water. Hope this helps! Ginny