There’s not a drop of food dye in these Raspberry Valentine Sugar Cookies…
REAL raspberries take full responsibility for all that color. But more importantly, real raspberries are a total flavor bomb in these cookies. How do we add all that raspberry flavor to a sugar cookie? With freeze dried raspberries, of course!
Freeze dried fruits have become a flavor revelation in this house. I remember when I first started seeing them in stores…bags of light as air freeze dried fruit. I could have thought all kinds of things at the time, but my first thought was, “Hey, I think those are the same kinds of fruit they use in cereal boxes! We can add them to cereal and stuff!” But I never really ended up using them much for cereal. (I actually first bought freeze dried fruit to make Strawberry Chocolate Bark. That was a fun and tasty experiment.)
Then, inspired by the Lemon Powder that I love to use for baking, I started grinding up freeze dried fruit to use the same way…as a powder…to add to any recipe I wanted! And that whole idea gave birth to a bunch of recipes we’ve been testing in our house for the past year.
Why is this a revelation? Because you can’t simply add fresh fruit or fresh fruit puree to just any recipe and have it come out the same. There’s extra moisture in fresh, canned or frozen fruit. Baking is a science and moisture is a variable that has all kinds of effects on a recipe. But with freeze dried fruit? You get all the flavor without any of the moisture. And it’s concentrated flavor.
My husband has gone crazy over this idea. While I’ve been working on developing other recipes, he’s been working on fun flavor combos in recipes that I hope to share with you soon. He hasn’t kept the best of notes though :/ I usually offer adjustments to the recipe as he’s working…more flour, less flour, more sugar, less sugar…try adding “this” and add it at this time and not that time. He took some bits of advice and passed on others. I’m not confident that all of those adjustments were captured in the recipe notes.
Let’s just say that I’m type “A” and he’s type “B.” I can’t blame him. Even as a type “A” girl, sometimes I miss a recipe note and have to go back and make the recipe again to insure I’m delivering the result I intended. I think one more round with those recipes and they’ll be ready for prime time. Stay tuned.
Today, I’m sharing a recipe that wasn’t part of that development process, though it certainly was inspired by it. I always make sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. It’s fun for us to decorate them, and it’s kind of a no brainer when you’re sending in treats for a school party. I’ve also baked them to use as edible valentines for my kids to share with their friends. As the kids grow older, though, we don’t have school parties anymore and the days of decorated shoe boxes to collect valentines have now passed :(
However, we do like to keep our traditions going. We still put up decorations and make sure there’s an air of festivity around the house. As I mentioned in my last post, we make homemade valentines and little gifts for each other. It’s fun. It’s festive. It’s creative. And…I still make cookies…shaped like hearts.
But this year, those hearts are flavored with raspberries, soooo, you’re going to need to find freeze dried raspberries. Over the years I’ve seen freeze dried fruits become more common place in grocery stores. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but you’ll often find them in the produce section of the grocery store or with dried fruits/nuts or sometimes with the cereals. Just remember that you need fruits that are “freeze dried,” not just “dried.” Freeze dried fruits are light as air and crispy, not chewy like raisins.
The bag I buy comes in a 1.2 ounce size and I used a little more than half of it. I just empty the bag into my mini food processor and process the dried berries until they have been pulverized into a fine powder. Because raspberries have seeds and I don’t want seeds in my cookies, I take the extra step to sift them out and discard them. What’s left is a gorgeous deep pink powder that almost looks like it should be at the cosmetics counter as a color choice for blush or nail polish or lipstick. Seriously, the color was almost mesmerizing. And it’s as intensely flavorful as it is colorful. We’re going to take advantage of both of those qualities.
Since it’s a powder, you might think it would get added with all of the dry ingredients. But after working with my husband on many tests, I’ve found that it’s best to add it with the wet ingredients. It will incorporate into the dough better and yield a better texture.
Once mixed, I usually roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and then refrigerate it. I like to give it 30 minutes to an hour, but I often just let it chill until the next day and then cut and bake them whenever I have time. Roll them thicker for a soft cookie, thinner for a crispier cookie.
Because I wanted all the raspberry pink”ness” to show through, I decided not to frost these cookies. Instead, I sprinkled some with sparkling sugar before baking. I baked others plain and simply dipped them into melted white and dark chocolate. They were all good. But, as much as I love berries and chocolate, I liked the cookies sprinkled with sugar and the ones dipped in white chocolate the best. The raspberry flavor adds a tartness to the cookie which was balanced nicely by the sweet sparkling sugar and the creamy white chocolate. Had I dipped the others in milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate, I might have felt differently. In any case, sweet toppings work well here, which means the cookies would be really yummy spread with some fluffy frosting or glazed with icing, should you decide to go that route.
Naturally pink, naturally raspberry, with that buttery sugar cookie flavor you love. A little flavor magic from freeze dried fruit takes a traditional sugar cookie to a fun new place.
If you read my Chocolate Chip Dulce de Leche Bars post, you know I love a homemade Valentine’s day. Homemade from the decorations to the gifts and the cards, and of course, the sweet treats. Consider these Raspberry Valentine Sugar Cookies…
my valentine to you :)