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Jolabokaflod Sweets: Icelandic Flag Cookies


For my girls' holiday party, my jolabokaflod, I made a cookie platter for dessert and decided to paint the sugar cookie hearts like the Icelandic flag. 


I don't use a lot of food coloring because I don't like the chemical aspect. So I was really tickled to find a set of natural food dyes. I love that the green and blue were made with spirulina extract and the yellow made with turmeric. That's definitely my kinda dye. But, I have a caveat: they don't stay true to color when they are heated. For instance, the red is a beautiful carmine hue...until you heat it...because it's made with beets. I tested it and it went from red to purple, which was not what I had in mind. Whoops. And everyone commented that the colors fade in the sunlight. So, these aren't as vibrant as colors made with Red No. 40 or Blue No. 1, but I love that they are naturally derived! I no longer bake with these, but they are great and vibrant in icings.


I don't know if cardamom is used extensively in Iceland, or not, but I made a lemon-cardamom spiced sugar cookie as the base along with a lemon icing. 

Ingredients

Lemon Cardamom Sugar Cookies
  • 2-3/4 C flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 3/4 C butter, softened
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • zest from 1 organic lemon (I used a Meyer lemon), approximately 2 t
  • 1 t ground cardamom

Royal Icing
  • 3 egg whites, or more to thin icing
  • 6 C organic powdered sugar
  • juice from 1 to 2 organic lemons (I used a Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 t pure vanilla extract

To Finish
  • red and blue food dyes (I used natural dyes)
  • 1/2 t pure peppermint extract
  • Also needed: clean paintbrush

Procedure
Lemon Cardamom Sugar Cookies
Sift together flour and baking powder. Set aside in a bowl.

Beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, lemon zest, and cardamom. Mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, until completely combined.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill dough for 1 to 2 hours. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Shape dough with your cutters, using flour to keep them from sticking. Place on a silicone mat-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Cool completely on wire racks. Make the royal icing while the cookies cool.

Royal Icing
Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Beat for another minute. If the icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it's too thin, add more sugar.


To Finish
Smooth the royal icing over cooled cookies. Let icing set completely before painting.

Once the icing is set, stir together the red food dye and blue food dye into peppermint extract in separate small bowls. How much dye you use depends on your preference of shade; I wanted mine more dark, so I used more dye.

The Icelandic flag is a red cross against a blue background with a slight white border between the red and the blue. Let dry completely before serving.




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