Friday, December 21, 2012

Dye-Free Confectioners' Sugar Icings, Plus Kudos for Simply Sensational Cookies

 I'm pleased to share with you this recipe from my Simply Sensational Cookies book that was featured in the   The Washington Post. It ran on December 12, 2012, in the Food Section holiday cookies issue.  (Note that the photo at left was shot by Deb Pearlman for the Post.  The cupcake photo below is mine.) 
Reprinted from the Washington Post:

 'Au Naturel' Confectioners' Sugar Icings
Cookbook author and cookie maven Nancy Baggett is proud of this icing, which doesn't rely on commercially made food dyes for its colors. "Simply by relying on the gorgeous natural colors of frozen (thawed) fruit juice concentrates from the supermarket . . . you can create a whole rainbow of tempting and tasty cookie icings," she writes.

She's also proud of the colorful homemade sprinkles that can be made from the same recipe. The sprinkles deteriorate in high heat and are best applied to cookies as they are being iced.
The optional meringue powder or dried egg white powder helps set the colors so contrasting shades don't bleed together as the icing hardens. Meringue powder is sometimes sold with cake decorating supplies; many supermarkets stock Deb El Just Whites or another brand of pure dried egg whites in their baking aisle.

This recipe makes enough icing to generously decorate twelve to fifteen 2 1/2-to-3-inch cookies.
MAKE AHEAD: The icing can be refrigerated in airtight containers for up to 1 week. If it has thickened, thin with a small amount of water, stirred in thoroughly. The sprinkles can be stored in airtight containers for up to 6 months.
Makes about 1/2 cup icing

  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted after measuring, if lumpy, plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon commercial meringue powder or pure dried egg white powder (see headnote; optional; omit if preparing sprinkles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons frozen (defrosted) cranberry, orange, Concord grape, raspberry-white grape or cherry-grape juice concentrate (or a combination), plus more if needed
  • 1/2 to 3 teaspoons unsweetened natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder or Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted after measuring, if lumpy (optional)


For each color of icing you want to make, vigorously stir together the confectioners' sugar and the meringue powder, if using, in a small, deep bowl. Stir in the corn syrup. Add the juice concentrate (or a blend of concentrates) and stir until completely smooth. If a brown color or tint is desired, stir in cocoa powder as needed. You want a uniformly colored icing that's thick enough to coat the cookie but not so thick that it's hard to spread. Adjust the texture as needed by adding confectioners' sugar, juice or cocoa powder, stirring to combine thoroughly.

Use a table knife, pastry brush or artist's paintbrush to spread a thin, even layer of icing on the cookie. This is your base color. To add details, stir in more confectioners' sugar so that the icing has some body. Spoon the icing into a small cone of parchment paper with just the tip of the pointed end snipped off, or into a plastic food storage bag with the tip of one corner snipped off. (Don't fill a bag more than half full.) Use the bag to pipe accents onto the cookies. If you want the accents to blend into the existing icing, pipe when the icing base is still wet; if you want them to stand out and hold their shape, wait until the base has dried.

To make homemade sprinkles, omit the meringue powder from the icing. Pipe very fine lines of icing onto a sheet of parchment, spacing them far enough apart so they don't run together. Let the icing dry for at least 12 hours, or at least 18 hours if the weather is humid. Slide the parchment onto a cutting board and use a large knife or pizza wheel to cut across the piped lines, creating sprinkles that are 1/2 inch long or shorter. Let stand for at least 4 hours, then transfer to airtight containers and store in a cool spot, away from bright light, for up to 6 months.
Recipe Source: Adapted from "Simply Sensational Cookies," by Nancy Baggett (John Wiley & Sons, 2013).

Another post you might like:
  Use the same icings to make your own decorator sprinkles to use on cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats, too!  Or perhaps you'd like to check out my short video on the BEST way to roll out cookie dough; it's been very popular.

For another all natural icing, my green tea icing, go here.

News: My new Simply Sensational Cookies has been featured in a number of stories on holiday cookbooks and baking lately.  I'm particularly proud to tell you that it made the TOP TEN 2012 cookbooks list of National Public Radio, as well as the Washington Post top cookbooks list, and many others around the country.


Anonymous said...

cookies are so pretty and nice their dye free

Anonymous said...

Contrats on your awards.



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