Sunday, January 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies with Naturally Dyed Icing

      I'm happy to report that our cookies turned out even better than I expected. Take a look!

We did have some issues making icing, but the colors were bright and beautiful. I was trying to follow our traditional icing recipe, which calls for powdered sugar. We didn't have any organic powdered sugar so we tried to powder regular organic sugar in the Vitamix and something went horribly wrong. Both times the icing came out brown and tasted nasty. The only explanation I can come up with is that the Vitamix got so hot it burned the sugar. So we had to whip up some cream cheese frosting instead, which ended up being quite runny. Next time we will find powdered sugar first!

Anyway, for the red we used beets. Just chopped them up and blended them and then strained the liquid out. It was so bright that when some splattered on the floor, of course, Evie stepped in it and her toes were stained red for a week!

For the yellow I tried to cook down some pineapple but it never really got concentrated so I ended up just using turmeric powder. It gave the icing a little spicy kick which I didn't mind, but next time I will use mango like I did for the icing on Evie's birthday cake. (See previous post for details)

Green was made from a handful of raw spinach thrown in the blender with the icing. You couldn't taste it at all! My mind was blown.

 Purple was boiled red cabbage put in the blender. Blue was that same cabbage with a bit of baking soda mixed in, which cause some kind of amazing chemical reaction and turns the purple to blue. I put too much in the first batch and it was really salty, so I suggest just adding a tiny bit at a time until you get the right shade. The blue was the least successful of all the colors so next time I might try a different approach.

This is what it looked like when I sprinkled baking soda on top of a spoon of the purple dye. Crazy!

Please note that our cookies always look like they were iced by a bunch of drunken preschoolers. So the fact that this year's cookies don't look like Martha Stewart's is a result of serious lack in cookie decorating skills, not quality of icing colors!

Overall I would call this adventure a huge success. Yes, it was more work. Yes, it was more expensive. Yes, it was more mess. But who cares, really? We ended up with beautiful, delicious, and most importantly not poisonous cookies that I feel comfortable giving to children. Now I know it can be done every Christmas from now on! What a weight off my shoulders.

The whole wheat sugar cookies were so delicious that we ate the first batch before we even iced them! 

Here is a link to the original recipe which I tweaked a bit.

1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoons baking powder*
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

* Make sure your baking powder is aluminum free and the corn starch in it is non-gmo. We use Rumford brand.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with a round cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on lined cookie sheets. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.