Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fruity Icing Recipe

Since I avoid any artificial food coloring or dyes in our foods, I have had to get creative when it comes to birthday cake. Last year, we did pink cakes for both my girls. I came up with an icing concoction that tasted really good and also turned out a very pretty pink. 

A few weeks ago, my youngest turned the big 2 years old! Since The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of her favorite books, we decided on that theme. Which meant needing green and red cupcakes…without food dye. 

 The basic concept behind this icing is butter, powdered sugar, and the juice or puree from fruit as your coloring and liquid for the frosting. Pink is a pretty easy color to achieve because you could use fruits like raspberries, cherries, or strawberries, to name a few. I haven’t tried purple yet but blueberries or blackberries would be perfect I think. But green? What do you use for green?! I’m sure at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s they have a dye free food coloring but I could find nothing of the sort at our one and only health food store or at Kroger. I thought about a mint paste or mint jelly but didn't find that either. I ended up trying lime zest and mashed kiwi for the green.

For the red color, I used organic frozen mixed berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry mix). I like the flecks of color you get by using the fruit pureed or mashed but in retrospect, I don't care for raspberry or blackberry seeds in my icing. So I would recommend just squeezing the juice out of these fruits (by using a strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter). In the end, the green was not as "green" as I was picturing and this is what our hungry little birthday caterpillar looked like:
Not exactly what I had envisioned BUT they were delicious, {semi} healthier, and the kids were happy. Ok, now that you have the background info, here is the good stuff - how you actually make the icing. 

Begin with:
2/3 cup room temperature butter
2-3 cups confectioners sugar, plus more as needed for desired thickness
Fruit in desired colors (Ideas: pink - see above; red - was thinking I should have tried cherry juice or fresh cherries, beet puree or juice; purple/lavendar - blueberries, blackberries; orange or yellow - pureed sweet potato or pumpkin). A few fruits like banana and avocado turn brown unless tossed with something acidic like lemon juice. Acidic foods curdle when mixed with dairy products so you have to be careful when mixing certain fruit combinations with butter or milk. 

Cream butter, add sugar and beat until smooth. Add fruit puree or juice, mix well, and add confectioner's sugar as needed to achieve the desired thickness of icing. This made about 2 cups of icing.

Both flavors of icing were delicious and the cupcakes themselves were very good and moist. I think my big, grown-up 2 year old liked them.


  1. They were soooo good! Want to make some more soon in celebration of your favorite sister's return from college? ;)

  2. Do the things you add for color flavor it that way?

    1. Yes, depending on how strong the flavor is. The kiwi was not as noticeable but the strawberry/berry flavor was definitely there (and it makes for really delicious frosting!).