Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beet Dyed Butter Cookies

Bull's Blood Beets

A family recipe is one of those feel good things. It's like the antique china sets my grandma goes back and forth for family dinners: pink or blue? Or opening the box each December to see your favorite Christmas tree ornaments.  The recipe has a deeper worth, like those ornaments (umm...check out these beautiful ornaments by Patience Brewster).

I think it's mostly about comfort.

One year my Mom tried to go "fancy" and decorate our Christmas tree with color coordinated ribbons and monochromatic stars and glittery globes. I hated it. Where were the vintage circus animal ornaments, the bird in the nest, and Santa riding a tractor?!

So why on earth am I talking about Christmas trees and ornaments tied in with family recipes in April?

Well, it's mostly about comfort.

It seems like just last week it was Christmas and I was just finalizing my orders and going over plans for the season.

And now we're zipping around getting the ground ready, making rows, transplanting, and direct seeding on constant repeat. As the farming year starts I have this anxious energy. Let's get moving. Let's get things in the ground.  Let's get growing!

And with all that running around I have found myself needing a little comfort from the favorite cookie in our family: the Butter Ball.

These are the cookies I made with Grandma Marcy constantly. For holidays or just because it was Wednesday and I needed to be entertained for a hour or two. I can remember taking the color of the cookies very seriously...carefully looking at all of the food coloring choices to the select the most appropriate one.   Most importantly they are the ultimate kid cookie because there's no egg so I was free to eat the raw dough until my little self couldn't handle anymore or at least until I was told to save some for baking!

These cookies I like soft so I tuck a slice of bread in the tin however most people eat these as a crunchy cookie  They are also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies or Snowball Cookies but for me they will eternally be Butter Balls.

So I bring you a twist on our family favorite, the Butter Ball.  Since coloring these cookies is such great fun beets make a great choice for getting any shade from a rosey pink to hot electric fuchsia.

Beet Dyed Butter Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
At least 1 tablespoon fresh red beet juice from grated beets (more beet juice, more fun color)

Preheat oven to 325.

Beat softened room temperature butter with sugar. Add vanilla extract and salt. Beat in flour slowly and in stages until completely combined.

Grab 1 - 2 beets. Remove very top and bottom. Grate beets into a bowl (try to contain the red mess). Now with a cheese cloth or just your hands remove the juice from the beet(s).  I used 1 tbsp in the pictures you see however feel free to get wild and use more!

Beat again to completely blend color.

Roll a small amount of dough into a circle between your hands and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 15-18 minutes.

When the cookies are still hot shake them in a bag filled with confectioners sugar.


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