I took a big break from cookie decorating over the winter holidays because we discovered that my four year old has a food dye sensitivity. We went on a family vacation where she had hot dogs, Froot Loops and other things she doesn’t normally get at home, and it was the worst vacation ever. She turned from a loving, fairly easygoing good traveler to a little ball of anger, she got upset over the slightest little things, and took hours to go to sleep at night. Toward the end of our trip I began to suspect food dye as the culprit for her angry behavior and sleepless nights. After a week or so of eliminating foods with dye in them we decided to test our theory about the dye by allowing a pink cupcake on New Year’s Eve. We ended up having a pretty miserable night, so we eliminated everything with dye in it and have all been soooo much happier since then.
It amazes me how many things have dye in them – some milk/butter products, marshmallows, toothpaste, pastries from our grocery bakery, Kraft mac & cheese, blueberry bagels, etc. – you get the picture. All this is a long winded way to say that I took a break because I didn’t feel like it was fair for me to make cookies that my daughter can’t eat. She loves to “help” decorate the cookies, and most importantly, to be a taste tester. Actually, she and my husband enjoy conspiring to make me have cookie mess ups so they can have the spoils.
Soooo… I finally got around to purchasing some natural food colors made by India Tree and tested them out for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t use the yellow, but tried out the red and the blue. I loved the shade of pink we got with the red. I think that getting red instead of pink might be possible using lots of dye, but the blue was a big disappointment. The blue looks almost black in the bottle, and once mixed it ends up a gray/lavender type color. The blue also dried in splotches. The icing tastes almost the same, but I think I detected a slight (pleasant) tartness to the cookies we iced in red/pink. All in all I’m glad to have these on hand so that my daughter can work alongside me when I’m making cookies, but I would not want to have to rely on these dyes for specific color/theme requests.
The bottom left cookie in the above photo is a “blue” icing base, with pink detail.