My daughter turned one this weekend. I love making and decorating birthday cakes, but I didn’t want to go overboard on the sugar, since she’s been primarily eating fresh whole foods so far. There will be plenty of sugar in the years to come, I’m sure, so I didn’t feel guilty about this. But I thought we should have something fun to celebrate this special day. Before she was born we had been calling her Turtle, partly because we couldn’t agree on a name, and partly because that’s what she looked like to us in the first ultrasound pictures! So I decided to try and make some turtle cookies to celebrate our Turtle’s big number one. A friend of mine had sent me a link a couple months ago to a blog post about natural food dyes. I looked it up again and decided I would try to make the turtle cookies green, naturally.
I used my favourite black and white cookie recipe, modified it to make a smaller batch, decreased the amount of sugar a bit and added some mashed banana. A full batch calls for a whole egg, so I just used the yolk for this smaller batch, which also added to the colour. To make it green, I used about 5 large spinach leaves. The natural food dye blog suggests using a juicer to juice the spinach, but I didn’t want to use our big juicer for 1 tsp of spinach juice. Instead, I chopped up the leaves, squished them with a mortar and pestel, then scraped them through a sieve to get the juice I needed. I mixed the spinach juice in with the creamed butter, sugar and yolk before mixing in the rest of the ingredients, then scooped them out and baked away.
They were definitely a hit with the birthday girl, she devoured her entire cookie, raisin legs and all. They were a hit with my husband and I, too; we couldn’t even taste the spinach. The colour wasn’t as vibrant as artificial food colouring, but they were a nice light green hue; you could probably add more spinach juice for a more vibrant colour, and still not taste it. I hope to try some more of the natural dyes listed on that blog, and look forward to baking colourful things in the years to come as my daughter gets older, and finds it more interesting to eat bread that is purple!