A few weeks ago, I made mini applesauce cupcakes for my son’s last day of camp. Each cupcake was topped with a tiny sugar cookie, decorated to look like an apple. The cupcakes themselves were relatively healthy, but I felt kid of bad about all the red gel paste I fed those poor kids in the royal icing on the cookies. It got me thinking about ways to naturally tint icing and frosting. Why not try fresh fruit? Using a fork, I smushed up a strawberry with some powdered sugar in a bowl. It quickly turned into a lovely pink icing. I tried the same thing with blueberries and peaches–each resulted in a prettily colored icing with a hint of the fruit used in each. Easy enough. Here are the details:
Place 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a small chopped strawberry (or equivalent amount of fruit) in a bowl.
Mush the fruit up with a fork, then stir it into the powdered sugar until icing is smooth, but still relatively thick. (This is a great job for kids to do!) Alternately, use a blender or mini food processor (not so good for kids!).
The final amount of powdered sugar you’ll need really depends on how juicy the fruit is. You don’t want the icing too thin. To test yours, put a dab of it on a plate and let set for about 10-15 minutes. If it gets a hard “skin” on the surface, you should be fine. If it doesn’t set, just add more powdered sugar.
Doesn’t this look fun? I used blueberries, strawberries, and peaches in the photos above, but I can’t wait to make kiwi-green icing and mango-orange. Raspberries or blackberries would also work very well, as would concord grapes.
Bottom line: if you want specific tints or supersaturated color in your icing, you’ll have to stick to the artificial stuff. But if you’re just making a batch of cookies with your kids and want an easy, pretty icing (and don’t want to worry about drips of red food coloring all over your counters and clothes) try this!
**There actually are a few natural food coloring products on the market. I have a set of “natural” plant-based food coloring from Dancing Deer Baking Co., but I believe they have been discontinued. I haven’t tried the India Tree decorating colors yet, but they look nice–though (understandably, I suppose) pricey. These can be purchased online.