Little boys are so much fun! Not only do they have cute sweater vests and baby loafers, they’re also rambunctious and super cute. I have 3 boys at home myself, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. Granted they are fuzzy and walk on all 4’s, but they all still love snuggling with their mommy, looks to her for comfort when the scary vacuum comes out of the laundry room, and relies on her to keep them safe and clean. Maybe one day we’ll be blessed with another baby boy in human form.
I was lucky enough to make some sweets for the cuties and future heart breakers (or pimps as Zach would say) for their recent birthdays. I can’t believe how fast time has gone (and how little number of blogs I have written) and how now all the babies around me are walking, speaking, and eating solid foods.
Since these celebrations may have been the 1st time the kiddies are introduced to sugar and sweets, I started thinking about what actually goes into the treats that I make. I’m not a super health nut, but I do believe in the health benefits of whole foods and a balanced natural diet without preservatives. Ok, so the majority of my medium is not healthy. The batch of butter cream I make calls for 10 sticks of butter and 4 cups of sugar. I have a heart attack each time I whip it up. Granted it makes 15 cups of icing which could ice and decorate a whole sheet cake or like 60 cupcakes, but all icing is, is sugar and butter (and some egg whites, since I make a Swiss Meringue Butter Cream). I’m not saying butter and sugar are bad. Our bodies needs fats and sugars and a treat here and there wouldn’t kill you, but it does make me feel guilty introducing these little humans to what some people would say are “drugs”.
I can still sleep using butter and sugar, but the main ingredient that has been eating away at my conscious is food coloring. The bright deep colors that attract us (especially kids) require A LOT of food coloring to make. Zach loves it when his tongue turns blue or deep red, but all I can think about is chemicals. Did you know artificial food coloring is derived from the burning of coal tar (as in a by-product of burning coal) or petroleum (as in gas)?! Bleh! I guess if you really looked into the foods we eat you’ll find something wrong with all of it and the horrible effects (like cancer, hyperactivity and other behavior problems in kids (check out this study by the Center of Science for the Public Interest)) if they are consumed in large quantities, but does that mean that’s ok?
So what are the solutions then? You could juice red beets for red and pink, kale or spinach for green, and blueberry for blue, but how would that effect the consistency and taste of baked goods? Has anyone out there tried this and do you have any tips and suggestions for cakes and icings? It looks like India Tree and Nature’s Flavors makes food colorings from concentrated vegetable colorants and have no corn syrup or synthetic dyes. Have you used these products before and what do you think?
Moderation is key too, but as I test taste icings every week and eat the messed up products, I’m guessing that isn’t moderation. I think I’ll work more with colored fondant as cake decoration now until I test out the natural colorants. Fondant has a cleaner finish and you can peel it off before ingesting.
Thoughts out there from bakers and/or moms?