Folks who live in Boston know that Mike’s Pastry is one of the most
absurdly crowded popular bakeries in the North End, the city’s Italian neighborhood. Folks who don’t live in Boston and who have never set foot in the push-and-shove insanity that is Mike’s need to get here ASAP because your life is not complete until you’ve wrestled with a mass of people for one of the store’s famous cannoli. (Side note: Yes, I know there is a debate about whether Modern Pastry is better, but I am solidly a Mike’s girl.)
Here’s what Mike’s is like. You enter the store and on your right are the generally-ignored marzipan fruits and gelato. Focus. You’re not here for that. The back wall, which you are facing, is lined with a colorful array of Italian cookies. In front of the wall is a glass display case that houses generous slices of cake and all their varieties of cannoli. The cakes may be tempting, but resist them and go for a cannoli instead. My personal favorite is the Florentine with chocolate chips – I like the glazed shell, and the chocolate chips add a nice sweetness to the tangy ricotta cheese filling.
A few weeks ago, a dear law school friend was in town and a group of us had dinner in the North End. Toward the end, as we were deciding whether to order dessert at the restaurant, I suggested going to Mike’s instead. My law school friend was so happy that she grabbed my hand and kissed my palm. This is the power of Mike’s.
I was all set on getting my regular Florentine cannoli when I spied some red velvet cookies in the corner of the wall display. I adore red velvet, but I’ve been getting a little bored of it in cake/cupcake form, which is so ubiquitous these days. But a cookie?! Now that instantly piqued my interest. And so, because I’d had a bit too much to drink, I went against my better judgment and ordered the cannoli and the red velvet cookie, forgetting that the last time I ordered two desserts at Mike’s had ended not ended well.
Let me just say that this time, I did not regret the decision to buy two desserts. In fact, the red velvet cookie was so good that I polished it off entirely and threw away two-thirds of the cannoli. And I immediately became obsessed with trying to recreate the cookie at home.
It turns out that there isn’t an abundance of red velvet cookie recipes on the Internet. There are plenty for red velvet whoopie pies, but those have a cakey texture that I didn’t want. But then I stumbled across this recipe from Made by Melis, and it turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. The cookies bake into large, flat rounds, slightly crispy on the edges and gloriously chewy in the middle. I made mine a bit bigger than hers, added white chocolate chips, and voila! I had an exact duplicate of the red velvet cookie I fell in love with at Mike’s. Now if only I could master cannoli….
The aftermath of working with red food coloring always looks like I’ve committed a crime.
Red Velvet Cookies
Adapted from Made by Melis
Yield: I used an ice cream scoop and got 11 giant cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring
2/3 cup (about 10 tablespoons) butter, softened
1 large egg
1 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add vinegar, food coloring, butter, and egg. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until dough comes together, about 3-4 minutes. Add white chocolate chips and mix on low speed for a few seconds to evenly distribute chips.
Drop large rounded spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. (I used an ice cream scoop.) Use the heel of your palm to flatten dough. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.