Use food coloring to brighten up spring treats
Spring is the perfect time to try new adventures in the kitchen. The world around us is a little drab now, but soon it will be bursting into lush and radiant colors. An easy way to kick-start spring indoors is by using food coloring.
While food coloring is nothing new in home kitchens, how we use them and the attainable color spectrum have really come a long way. While the more traditional McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye has been a staple in kitchen cupboards for years, the company’s neon color versions are a new and exciting experience.
The neon options definitely are not your grandmother’s food colorings. They feature electrifying versions of purple, pink, green and blue. The colors are brilliant and quickly develop beautiful shades, unattainable with traditional food coloring. But most of all – they’re fun! After experiencing the broad range of color options – from the faintest hint of lavender to the darkest deep purple, for example -- home cooks will be seeking new ways to incorporate the neon food colorings into everyday baking.
With Easter right around the corner, it’s time to start planning which holiday treats to serve. For those of us on a tight schedule, the following two recipes offer quick options for distinctive treats, and a chance for the kids to help without a lot of fuss.
For added convenience, the Chick Cupcakes can start with a box cake mix and canned frosting, and doughnut holes are used to form the heads. The white coconut was tinted with yellow food coloring to create the chicks’ fuzz.
McCormick’s Colorful Cookie Glaze recipe was a breeze to make, with only four ingredients and the neon coloring. The glaze is equally delicious and decorative atop homemade, store-bought or ready-to-bake cookies.
Test Kitchen Tips
CHICK CUPCAKES: Decorating the Chick Cupcakes is sure to be a hit with kids. The most difficult part was frosting the doughnut-hole “heads.” McCormick recommends using a skewer, which I did, but they still spun around when I tried to frost them. I ended up using the skewer and frosting everywhere but where my fingers were holding the hole steady. Then, I placed the head on the body and topped the bare spot off with frosting. It was a little messy, but not too difficult.
COLORFUL COOKIE GLAZE: The glaze is very easy to make and very forgiving to use. It does, however, firm up very quickly, so I would not make it until you’re absolutely ready to use it. I divided the batter into four bowls to experiment with each of the neon colors. It was well worth the extra clean-up. McCormick also recommends putting the glaze inside a freezer-weight plastic bag with a corner nipped off to decorate cookies. This worked surprisingly well and is sure to be a big hit with kids, too.
BEST ADVICE: Make it easy: Do the baking one day, and the decorating the next!
FOR MORE: Recipes, food coloring and decorating ideas abound at www.mccormick.com.
Colorful Cookie Glaze
Yield: Makes about 1/2 cup.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/4 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract or 1/4 teaspoon Pure Almond Extract
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye or McCormick Assorted NEON! Food Colors and Egg Dye
1. Mix confectioners’ sugar, milk and extract in small bowl until smooth. Stir in corn syrup until glaze is smooth and glossy. (If glaze is too thick, stir in small amount of additional corn syrup.) Stir in three to four drops food color until evenly distributed and glaze is smooth. Add additional drops of food color until glaze is of desired color.
2. To glaze cookies, place cooling rack on foil-lined baking sheet. Holding a cookie by its edge, dip the top of cookie into glaze. Or spoon the glaze onto cookies using a teaspoon. Cookies also can be glazed using a new small paintbrush. Place glazed cookies on cooling rack to dry. The foil-covered baking sheet will catch any drips.
3. Use contrasting glaze colors to decorate glazed cookies, if desired. Spoon small amount of contrasting glaze into small re-sealable plastic bag. Snip off tiny piece of the corner of the plastic bag. Create design by squeezing contrasting glaze onto cookies. Allow glazed cookies to dry thoroughly before stacking.
- Use glaze soon after preparing. Do not refrigerate glaze, as it will begin to harden.
- If you would like more than one color of glaze, divide untinted glaze among separate small bowls. Tint each one a different color by stirring in one to two drops food color until evenly distributed and glaze is smooth. Add additional drops food color until glaze is of desired color.
- If cookie is decorated with contrasting glaze before glazed cookie is allowed to dry, glaze colors will blend slightly, creating a softer, more muted design.
- Allow glaze to dry before storing cookies in airtight containers.
Yield: Makes 12 (one cupcake) servings.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
1 container (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
McCormick Assorted Food Colors and Egg Dye
2 cups flaked coconut
12 unfrosted cupcakes
12 plain doughnut holes
12 pieces candy corn or
6 orange jelly beans, halved lengthwise
Miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Tint frosting yellow, using 18 drops yellow food color. Place coconut in re-sealable plastic bag. Add 12 drops yellow food color to coconut in bag; shake until coconut is evenly tinted.
2. Spread top of each cupcake with tinted frosting. Press opposite sides of each cupcake into tinted coconut. Spread doughnut holes with remaining frosting. Press a doughnut hole into top of each cupcake to form the chick’s head.
3. Press coconut on top of the head for feathers. Insert a candy corn or jelly bean half into the face for the beak. Use the chocolate chips for the eyes.
- For ease in frosting doughnut holes, first insert small wooden skewer into doughnut. Use skewer as a handle when frosting doughnut. Invert frosted doughnut onto cupcake then remove skewer.