Healthier Icing Recipe
Several have asked what I used to frost my Gluten-Free Almond Orange Cookies, so I thought now would be a good time (think Christmas cookies) to post my icing recipe.
Most frosting recipes use butter or Earth Balance and lots of white, powdered sugar. My “healthier” icing still has plenty of sugar, but I made it a tad healthier by replacing the butter with coconut cream and using organic, natural foods for coloring instead of regular food coloring.
If you’re looking for something quick and easy to frost your Christmas cookies, you can’t get much easier than this.
Embrace Your Inner Hippie
If you want crisp and white or super bright, this isn’t the icing for you; but if you’d like to experiment with some organic colors, you’ll love the beautiful earth tones you can get from frosting made from less-refined sugars.
How to Color Icing Naturally
Regular food coloring contains ingredients that has been shown to cause hyperactivity and cancer. So I wanted to tint my icing with something more natural – something safer. They do make “natural” food colorings, but I’ve never tried them.
To get the purple color frosting, I boiled a couple purple sweet potatoes in a a saucepan in a small amount of water. When the water was almost gone, there was a thick purple liquid at the bottom of the pan. I added a few drops of that to my icing and voila! Purple icing!
To tint my icing pink (or light red – not shown), I boiled some frozen cranberries in a tiny bit of water until most of the water boiled away. Then I lightly mashed the cranberries so they released a thick red liquid. (Not much mashing was required.) When I added that to my icing, it turned anywhere from pink to almost red depending on how much I added.
I tried making orange icing with orange sweet potatoes, but it lent more of a brown color, which I already achieved quite nicely by using the less-refined sugars in my icing.
I wanted to try making green icing using spinach, but I didn’t have any on hand.
Have you ever tried natural food colorings?
Is Unrefined Sugar Really Unrefined?
Despite what manufacturers want to lead you to believe, all cane sugars – even those that are labelled “unrefined” – are made by crushing sugar cane and extracting the juice (plus many more steps). The cane, which contains the fiber and many other nutrients, is discarded (or used for other purposes). This makes the end product a refined food.
While most sugar that’s labelled unrefined, such as sucanat and demerara, is definitely a better choice compared to white sugar, it is still sugar and should be used sparingly.
If you want a sugar that is truly unrefined, try date sugar, which is simply ground up dates.
Or check out my sugar-free recipes here.
Healthier Icing Recipe
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut cream - (This is the thick part of the coconut milk on the top of the can. See more in notes below.)
- Place powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Add one teaspoon coconut cream and mix well. Mixture will seem very, very dry. Keep mixing.
- Once all the sugar has been moistened by the coconut cream, it will start to look like thick icing.
- Add additional coconut cream if needed to achieve desired consistency.
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Hi Jennifer ? Thanks for sharing. I have had success with beets for coloring. You can get a deep purple and red and carrots for
Orange and spinach for green. Slow simmer to extract color. Happy holidays
Thank you so much for these tips! Very helpful. : )
Happy holidays to you too.
How does coconut sugar compare to the others mentioned? Do you think it’s better than the cane sugar options? I’d appreciate your input!
Coconut sugar is a tad more difficult to make into powdered sugar (it takes a little more blending), but it does work.
However, coconut sugar is no better for the body than is cane sugar. It’s a highly refined product.
I hope this helps.
I’m just coming across this in 2022! My question is, does the icing harden, and if so, at what temperature?
Since this icing doesn’t have shortening or butter in it, it doesn’t harden like regular icing. It does thicken and set up quite a bit, though, when chilled.
Thanks for the reply! Do you think I could add solid coconut oil to get that effect?
Hmmm … I’m not sure. That might work, but I’ve never tried it.