Natural food coloring for Christmas cookies

As cliché as it sounds, one of my most treasured holiday memories is baking cookies with my mom… My favourites were (and are) our peach and apricot shortbread, lemon-coconut shortbread squares, and of course any type of cut-outs (like classic butter cookies or a spiced version of them). I love(d) decorating them… We still play classic holiday music and decorate away, it really sets the holiday mood. 

Of course no one really cared about red colour no. 40 back then. But now that I have little ones I wanted to try making natural food based colorings. The first time explored this was for Salma’s first birthday and I loved the soft pink and purple pastel colours that came out (see here). I think the hues are much prettier than the artificial ones and it’s easy to control the how pigmented your icing is. 

For this holiday version I used simple icing with the ratio of  1 cup icing sugar  : 1.5 tbsp  milk. In a small bowl mix sugar and milk until well combined. For food based coloring divide the icing  into different containers and use the following, start with a pinch and then increase the quantity until you reach your desired hue:

Yellow – turmeric

Green – matcha 

Purple- frozen blueberries

Pink – hibiscus tea or pomegranate molasses

Burnt orange – annato (FYI this is a naturally derived food coloring made from the seeds of the achiote tree, it’s used in many food products).

Regardless of the results, the most important part about holiday baking is enjoying the moment and being present with your loved ones (without worrying too much about the mess).

Happy Holidays!

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