Red Velvet for Valentines, Part II by Donna Everhart

In my family we have a cookie baking tradition. Since I can remember, my mother and I have baked at Christmas time, and this has continued with my daughter, and now my granddaughter too. Four generations were in my kitchen this past holiday season, my granddaughter’s very first time, while for my daughter, my mother and myself, we can count these special times by the decades. There was one year we baked from seven a.m. until eleven p.m., and the next morning when I woke up, my hands ached from kneading so much dough. That was the year we made eight different types of cookies, doubling or tripling recipes, so by the time it was all said and done, we had to have baked hundreds upon hundreds of cookies. We are not that ambitious now, and usually do about three kinds. The dough is made ahead, so all we have to do is roll, drop, or cut. This is much more manageable, and enjoyable time for all considering we now have an eighty-two year old with a cane and a four year old with enough energy for all of us.

By the time Valentine’s Day comes around, the holiday overload of sugar has waned, and if I’ve been careful, my New Year’s resolutions are still intact. Valentine’s Day is about showing our love for those we care about, and what better way to do this than to offer up something homemade to go along with a card? In a previous post, I talked about red velvet cupcakes, and hinted I had a recipe for red velvet cookies. I don’t know what it is about cookies, but they hold such nostalgic feelings for me. I have memories of cookies and milk for an after school snack, and how there was always a filled cookie jar on the kitchen countertop when I was growing up. It wasn’t uncommon for me and my brother to try and sneak one before supper, dodging Mom’s watchful eye.

Cookies are such an easy treat and just like the cross-over products I also mentioned previously, (red velvet Pop Tart™ anyone?) I am so happy some smart soul figured out how to make this red velvet crackle cookie. If you haven’t had crackle cookies, (some may call this a crinkle cookie), you’re missing out!

Like with the devil’s food cake discovery, which eventually turned up red velvet cakes, the same may have happened with the cookie version. I tried to find out if there was any history and I searched in vain. All I found were recipes for both chocolate and red velvet versions. Personally, I couldn’t buy the ingredients fast enough so that I could try them out. I was not disappointed. Crackle cookies have a distinctive surface, essentially what looks like a “cracked” appearance, which is unique and reveals the depth of color against the white sugar. When I made the red velvet ones, I thought they were as striking as the cake. I have no doubt if you decide to make these for Valentine’s Day, your loved ones are going to know you’ve given them something special.


  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 ¼ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 oz melted semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp red food coloring
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat stick of softened, unsalted butter and light brown sugar on medium speed until light and creamy. Add 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and 2 large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 4 oz melted semisweet chocolate and 1 tbsp red food coloring, beat until evenly colored. On low speed, add flour mixture, beat until just incorporated. Cover, refrigerate 1 hour.

Position racks evenly spaced in middle of oven. Preheat to 350. Place ¾ cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll dough into 1 Tbsp size balls, rolling each ball in the powdered sugar, coating generously. Place 12 cookies on each of 2 parchment lined sheet pans, spacing them evenly. Lightly flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. Bake 14 minutes or until deep cracks appear on the surface, switching baking sheets between racks about halfway through. Cool on baking sheets 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes 28 cookies.

In this masterful new novel, set in 1950s North Carolina, the acclaimed author of The Road to Bittersweet and The Education of Dixie Dupree brings to life an unforgettable young heroine and a moving story of family love tested to its limits.

For twelve-year-old Martha “Sonny” Creech, there is no place more beautiful than her family’s cotton farm. She, her two brothers, and her parents work hard on their land—hoeing, planting, picking—but only Sonny loves the rich, dark earth the way her father does. When a tragic accident claims his life, her stricken family struggles to fend off ruin—until their rich, reclusive neighbor offers to help finance that year’s cotton crop.

Sonny is dismayed when her mama accepts Frank Fowler’s offer; even more so when Sonny’s best friend, Daniel, points out that the man has ulterior motives. Sonny has a talent for divining water—an ability she shared with her father and earns her the hated nickname “water witch” in school. But uncanny as that skill may be, it won’t be enough to offset Mr. Fowler’s disturbing influence in her world. Even her bond with Daniel begins to collapse under the weight of Mr. Fowler’s bigoted taunts. Though she tries to bury her misgivings for the sake of her mama’s happiness, Sonny doesn’t need a willow branch to divine that a reckoning is coming, bringing with it heartache, violence—and perhaps, a fitting and surprising measure of justice.

Praise For The Novels Of Donna Everhart
The Road To Bittersweet
A Winter 2018 Okra Pick!

“You will fall in love with Wallis Ann Stamper as she meets the bitter challenges of her hardscrabble life, inspired by her sweet love for her family. Her grit and unfailing faith in herself will melt your heart, as it did mine.” –Sandra Dallas, New York Times bestselling author

“Everhart is a good storyteller and makes her characters and their experiences come alive.” —Booklist

“The book is Southern fiction at its finest.” –Historical Novels Society

The Education Of Dixie Dupree
An Indie Next List Selection!

“Please open your heart to Dixie Dupree. With unflinching honesty and a voice that rings with authenticity, she survives the unthinkable. Her story celebrates the resiliency of the human spirit and the triumph of the imagination. An important novel, beautifully written, this is a story to cherish.” Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Young Dixie Dupree is an indomitable spirit in this coming-of-age novel that is a heartbreaking and honest witness to the resilience of human nature and the fighting spirit and courage residing in all of us.” –The Huffington Post

“In a powerful coming of age story that pitches southern charm against dark family secrets, the voice of 11 year old Dixie Dupree captivates from the first page to the last.” Barbara Claypole White, bestselling author of The Perfect Son