Welcome to the kickoff of our holiday baking series! I absolutely adore Christmas. It is the one holiday that I will unabashedly decorate my house for, drag my family to holiday events around town, and bake enough cookies to feed an army. I created a cookie this year just for my daughter, Thora, who loves all things pink and strawberry flavored. I am not a fan of food coloring, so I am always looking for creative ways to add color to her cookies. Inspiration hit when I was tossing a couple bags of freeze-dried strawberries into the grocery cart.
I am sure you have come across freeze-dried fruit by now. It is nothing like regular dried fruit, which is very chewy and sticky. Freeze-dried fruit is crispy, delicate, crunchy bits of intense fruit flavor. I poured a bag into the blender attachment of the Ankarsrum mixer and within seconds had a lovely pink strawberry powder.
Brilliant! No having to deal with flavorless out-of-season berries, or cooking frozen ones down to some jammy consistency that could be added into a cookie. I incorporated the powder into a cookie dough I came up with that slightly resembles shortbread. Not too sweet, a little crumbly, and holds its little dome shape during baking. This makes it perfect for dipping into a simple icing made with some more of the strawberry powder. Cooking tip: I prefer to use a small scoop to portion out my cookie dough, that way you end up with uniform cookies.
Once baked, the cookies are infused with a scrumptious strawberry flavor and light pink/red speckled color; so pretty.
This recipe is very simple, so it is easy to get the kids involved as well, especially when it comes time to dunk the cookies in icing. I like to place a sheet of parchment or waxed paper under the cooling rack when dipping items in icing. Makes for a quick clean-up and no sticky drips on the countertops.
Hope you enjoy and get inspired to begin your holiday baking!
Thora’s Pink Christmas Cookies
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup powdered freeze-dried strawberries*
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons powdered freeze-dried strawberries*
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1/4 cup powdered strawberries.
In the whisking bowl of the Ankarsrum, fitted with the single wire whips, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed (3 o’clock) until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix until everything is incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Using a tablespoon or small disher, scoop out rounds of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the bottom is lightly browned.
Allow the cookies to cool on a cooling rack while you make the glaze.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and powdered strawberries. Add in the 3 tablespoons milk and fresh orange juice. If it is a little too thick, whisk in the extra tablespoon of milk.
Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the glaze and place back on the cooling rack until the icing sets.
Yield: 3 1/2 dozen
*Place 1.2 ounces of freeze dried strawberries in the blender attachment of the Ankarsrum. Blend on high for 10 seconds. Makes approximately what the recipe requires.
Whole Grain Version:
-Replace the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour or soft white wheat if you mill your own flour.
-Replace the regular sugar with sucanat with honey.
-For powdered sugar for the icing, place 1 cup sucanat with honey and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in the blender attachment and blend on high speed for 30-60 seconds until powdered.
Follow recipe as stated above
Notes: I found the flavor of these to be quite tasty, although the cookie will spread a little bit more due to the whole grain flour and sucanat with honey. The pinkness of the cookies is dulled to a brownish pink color because of the flour and sucanat.
-Replace the all-purpose flour with:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sorghum flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
Follow recipe as stated above.
Notes: make sure you purchase a brown rice flour that is very fine or if you mill at home, mill on a very fine setting. This will significantly cut down on the grainy texture of rice flour in your baked goods. The taste and texture of these cookies was very similar to the original version.