Red Velvet Cookies (no food coloring added)
If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you might have noticed that I have a bit of an obsession with natural food coloring: red velvet pancakes; red, white, and blue popsicles; St. Patrick’s Day pancakes in green, soft sugar cookies with pink icing – and that’s just a few.
I love using fruits and vegetables to make my food pretty (instead of petroleum dyes that have been increasingly linked to all kinds of problems).
But here’s the catch: I want my food to taste really good, so I’m not going to sacrifice flavor for color. Ever.
Along those lines, let me say that kale juice is a great colorant but makes icing that tastes like the bottom of a shoe.
But beets, on the other hand, are awesome. Their earthy sweetness is the perfect partner to chocolate, making these healthier red velvet cookies delicious AND beautiful. My husband ate a couple and said in happy surprise that they taste absolutely nothing like beets. If you add pumpkin purée to desserts, this isn’t really that different.
These cookies are beautiful with a soft, almost cakey inside and a slightly crispy/chewy exterior that reminds me of a brownie.
A little bit of chemistry helps a lot when cooking for color. You want to keep the acidity high for brightness, which means baking powder (chemically balanced) instead of baking soda (alkaline) and lots of lemon juice (or vinegar) for increased acidity.
This recipe includes two options for a sweet topping: cream cheese icing and glaze. You can do half and half, which is what I did, or just one. I suppose you could leave the beet out of the glaze and frosting entirely, but I’m smitten with the gorgeous pink color.
Both the icing and glaze dry nicely, but the icing stays slightly soft to the touch when dry.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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