Here's a great, all-purpose recipe for sugar cookies, but the real gem is the method for making a beautiful set of royal icings to decorate them. We've used a trio of berry powders to make the colors here, but you can make other colors with almost any freeze-dried fruit (or vegetable).
To make ahead: Freeze decorated cookies in an airtight container for up 1 month.
Equipment: Parchment paper, 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutters
Tips: Meringue powder in royal icing helps keep the delicate natural pigments from fading or bleeding together. It's made with powdered egg whites along with other ingredients found in meringues, like cream of tartar. Find meringue powder in the cake-decorating section of craft stores, larger supermarkets and online. You can substitute egg white powder.
Freeze-Dried Fruit for Food Coloring
Freeze-dried fruits have all their water removed in a heat-free, vacuum process that also protects colors, keeps flavors fresh and fruity and creates a crumbly texture (unlike the leathery, traditionally dried ones). Ground into powder, they're ideal for coloring.
Where to Buy: Both freeze-dried fruit and pre-ground powders are readily available. Look for them at the supermarket with other dried fruit or online at amazon.com.
To Prepare Them: Grind freeze-dried fruits in a food processor until they become a fine powder. (If you find dried fruits already powdered, there's no need to grind them.)
Serving Size: 1 cookie
148 calories; protein 2.3g; carbohydrates 25.1g; dietary fiber 0.9g; sugars 15.8g; fat 4.5g; saturated fat 2.2g; cholesterol 15.4mg; vitamin a iu 111.2IU; folate 19.1mcg; calcium 13.7mg; iron 1.1mg; magnesium 2.9mg; potassium 29.3mg; sodium 62.5mg; added sugar 16g.