How to use Natural Food Dyes with Chocolate
You don’t need the luck of the Irish — or any artificial colorants — for green-themed desserts this St. Patrick’s Day. This week we discovered, much to our delight, how beautifully the Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer can create shamrock-hued sweets using natural food dyes. Experimenting with natural colors was a breeze, and that’s no Blarney! We simply melted white chocolate in small porcelain dishes, then mixed in a variety of chemical-free colorants for desserts that were “green” in every sense of the word. Which alternative food color was the best? We put our leprechauns to work in our test kitchen to find out.
Off-the-shelf liquid colorants, like the natural dyes made by India Tree, are great for baking; indeed, India Tree worked well for our cookie dough. India Tree is made from concentrated vegetable colorants; it contains no corn syrup or synthetic dyes. Simply mixing the blue and yellow colors in different quantities allows you to create many shades of green.
Powdered Natural Food Dyes Work for Chocolate
Unfortunately, liquid food color can cause chocolate to seize and become lumpy. So while we recommend it for dough, we don’t for chocolate. Powdered colorants are the way to go. We got creative and tried spirulina powder, wheat grass powder, matcha green tea, a super-food green powder supplement blend, kelp granules which have been ground to powder in a flax mill, and seven other teas and dried greens.
As we worked, we were reminded again how beautifully the Folding Proofer holds melted chocolate at the ideal working temperature – no seizing, scorching, or turning muddy. As we tested each dish, the Proofer held the other dishes at the ideal temperature, about 87 °F / 30 °C for white chocolate, allowing plenty of time to play with color and flavor.
St. Patrick’s Day cookies colored with liquid natural food dye
For color, the clear winner was matcha green tea powder. However, green tea contains caffeine – something you may want to consider, particularly if children will be enjoying the treats. Our second preference was wheatgrass powder; it blended well with white chocolate and resulted in a mild taste. Spirulina powder was also mild in flavor, but the color resulted in more of a blue-green color than what we wanted for our St. Patrick’s Day desserts.
For each, we started with just a small pinch of the colorants and then added more to develop deeper color intensity. As you increase the amount of colorant, keep in mind that the flavor of your chocolate also deepens in taste. This type of experimentation would have been nearly impossible without the accurate temperature control of the Folding Proofer. To the experimental dessert-maker, the Proofer is worth its weight in gold!
Have any colorants you’d recommend? We’d love to hear from you!
White chocolate colored with matcha green tea
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Interesting that Pandan was not used as a colorant in the line up. Several varieties are known and used in Southeast Asia to both flavour and colour foods including cakes, cookies, ice cream, rice and drinks. The fresh leaves are usually washed, cut, crushed, pressed and strained for the green water. Concentrated is also available as an extract. It gives beautiful shades of green.
This is a great suggestion, Sarah. Only the powdered Pandan can be used with chocolate to prevent the chocolate from seizing. We have found that Pandan is not readily available in stores in the U.S. but can be ordered online and imported. We are all intrigued to try it with our chocolate treats. Thank you for your interest.