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Red velvet cake reimagined as a holiday cookie

Red velvet cake long has been a favorite of Southern cooks. But in recent years it has become a popular treat across the country.

Taking our inspiration from both red velvet cake and red hot cinnamon candies, we combined the two in a meltaway-style cookie that crumbles and melts in your mouth. And following red velvet cake tradition, we topped each cookie with a little cream cheese icing, which pairs perfectly with the cinnamon bite.

Red Hot Velvet Meltaways

Start to finish: 1 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Makes 3 dozen cookies

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon red food coloring

1 teaspoon cinnamon extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the frosting:

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Red sugar or sprinkles, to decorate

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the granulated sugar, butter, food coloring, cinnamon extract and ground cinnamon just until creamy and well combined. Stir in the flour mixture, then refrigerate the dough until chilled, about 1 hour. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the chilled dough into balls the size of a large marble. Slightly flatten each ball to a disc about 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until set. These cookies should not brown or spread, and will be quite fragile. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Using a pastry bag or a zip-close bag with the corner snipped off, drizzle the frosting over the cookies in a zigzag pattern. Sprinkle with red sugar or sprinkles to decorate. Store in a single layer in the refrigerator.

Nutrition information per cookie (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 100 calories; 70 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 20 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 0 g fiber; 25 mg sodium.

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