Edit: February 8, 2013
Due to the large demand for a how-to on the rainbow cookies, I've created a new blog post outlining the recipe and instructions for creating sugar cookies and the Jell-O icing. You can link to the post by clicking here.
Did you know you can colour AND flavour your cookie icing with Jell-O crystals? It's a quick, economical, and fun way to dress up your cookies if you don't have a cupboard full of food-dyes or extracts. What started out as a substitution (I didn't have any food colouring in the kitchen) became a rainbow of possibilities.
First, let me clarify I have no affiliation with KRAFT or Jell-O. In all honesty, I try to avoid as many as the company's products as possible. An exception to that rule is the wobbly, jewel-toned, quick & easy dessert in-a-box. It's a textural thing and believe it or not sometimes I crave that purple flavour (also found in popsicles). I know it's full of sugar, artificial colours and flavours, but I figure that since I don't drink soda pop, I can afford this little guilty pleasure every once in a while. It's a treat. And it's fun.
Edit: February 6, 2013: I'm adding instructions to my blog post for all the peeps who have been coming back to this page for info and for those who are downloading the image to share (my website is at the bottom of the pic).
See this blog post for detailed instructions.
Inspiration For Valentine's Day Cookies
In an attempt to bring some colour to my dull January days and experiment with an icing technique called 'brush embroidery' inspired from Clockwork Lemon's blog, I whipped up a batch of sugar cookies. The technique required the cookies to be covered with a layer of icing in a contrasting colour from what the 'embroidery' would be- but I didn't have any food colouring in the kitchen. When I opened the drawer to see what I could substitute with instead (I thought of cocoa powder but didn't have any of that left either) the open boxes of Jell-O that I used to prepare rainbow parfaits a few weeks ago caught my eye.
To shorten the story, I added watermelon Jell-O to my icing (powdered sugar mixed with water) and it not only turned the icing pink, it made it taste like (artificial) watermelon. I tried it- liked it, seven year-old Tristan tried it- liked it. The idea to make rainbow Valentine cookies was born. I took a few pictures to share the idea with others through the internet, and at this point the picture has had more than 150 000 views (edit to say: 170 000). If it inspires people to have an interest in baking their own cookies, I'm all for it.
Please note: We're talking about Jell-O and cookies here, so I'm not going to debate any health/political/real-food concerns. It's my personal guilty pleasure. I don't recommend eating them everyday.
That being said, if you do use Jell-O as a colouring/flavour addition in your icings, please be courteous to let your vegan/vegetarian friends know (if you are sharing with others, that is). Gelatin, the ingredient in Jell-O that makes it set, comes from collagen, which is derived from animal carcasses. Many vegetarians chose to avoid gelatin wherever possible and wouldn't expect to find it in cookies. Vegans would be wary of cookies anyway due to butter and egg concerns.
Rainbow Jell-O Parfaits
Can you tell I've been on Pinterest? A pin with rainbow Jell-O shots inspired me to create rainbow parfaits. I've made layered Jell-o many times before (alcoholic jelly shooters for birthdays etc.) but I had never seen white Jell-O before. Turns out it's sweetened condensed milk set with unflavoured gelatin. Pour a layer, let it set, pour another layer, let it set, repeat.
Tips for Using Gelatin
Rainbow Birthday Cake
One last rainbow inspiration came from another blog, Whisk Kid. My sister wanted a cake prepared for her birthday, and I offered her the choice between a rainbow cake or an ombre cake. She said, "Surprise me." The cake is coloured with food-dyes, not Jell-O. As much as I want to make this cake again, I think I will wait until I can source plant-derived dyes first.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.