Adventures In Food Coloring ...
Given my grown-up disgust yet nostalgia for conversation hearts – I loved them as a kid, but now I'm convinced they're dried bits of toothpaste – I thought I'd put together a batch of shortbread dough, divide it, color each portion with just enough food coloring to be pleasant, not garish, and be pleased with myself for my minimal yet edible homage to the toothpaste bits. (OK, maybe they're antacids.)
I rummaged through the drawer through which I rarely rummage, in search of my heart cookie cutters. Found them.
Then I spun my spice-rack carousel until I arrived at the box of food coloring. Checked them. Still liquid. Good. (I have no idea when I last bought food coloring. I know it hasn't been recently.)
I made the dough.
I cut it into fourths.
I plopped one quarter in a Ziploc sandwich bag and added two drops of red. (I figured it would be better to knead the dough in plastic than get red dye all over my hands that I might then transfer to other blobs of dough intended to be other colors.)
I knew I wanted pink hearts. Two drops seemed like the right amount. Really, I could have stopped at one. Those are the pink hearts, above. Is it me or do they look a bit like tongue? But I was going to mix other colors, a drop each, so I figured I should use two drops per blob.
I also knew that I wanted to purple hearts, so another blob went into another bag and drop of blue and drop of red and smoosh.
The blue didn't look much like blue. It looked like, um, black. Had the blue gotten bluer over time? Does blue food coloring eventually turn black? I guess so. But then I thought, "Maybe I just need to distribute the color." So I set about kneading it through the dough.
Now, admittedly, the light in my kitchen wasn't ideal at the moment and it has been a very grey day, but I wasn't seeing purple. I wasn't seeing lavender. I was seeing, um, grey. Purplish grey. But not so much with the purple.
At which point, I thought this (and then tweeted it):
Hmm. Perhaps food coloring doesn't last forever. My red + blue to make purple yielded a color I'd expect to see in a Tim Burton movie.
— Beth Kujawski (@beth4158) February 13, 2015
The more I looked at the dough, the more the purple seemed to recede. Yeah, it was pretty damn grey. Which was not really part of my cute-cookie plan. (Though, come to think of it, I think Necco makes a grey wafer that's licorice-flavored. But I digress.)
I looked at the remaining quarters of dough. Should I leave them alone? Should I just let them be shortbread in hue?
Nope. Drop, drop. Green. Wow. Green does not degrade. Green stays green. Briefly, I pondered a shamrock, but I don't have a shamrock cutter.
And so I patted out the colored blobs of dough on parchment and cut out hearts and rolled the extra bits of dough that I flattened into cute rounded buttons.
And I put the baking sheet into the oven.
And I was pleased that the Tim Burton hearts purpled up a bit while they baked. They came out looking much less bleak than when they went in.
But the combination of tongue pink and nearly shamrock green and ashen-Grimace purple wasn't the most photogenic gang. So I opted to just shoot the pink.
I'm not really the food-coloring type. I'll stick to my usual cookie palette of white, off-white, and browns.
Unless Tim Burton calls.