Enjoy making special red heart shaped horse treats with beets.
Want to show some love with heart shaped horse treats for Valentine’s Day? Fresh beetroot provides a deep red color in this this homemade Valentines day horse treat recipe.
Heart Shaped Horse Treats With Homemade Beet Coloring
Using beets as natural food coloring is a bit tricky. It takes care to preserve the beetroot’s red color. Otherwise the natural red beet color breaks down in conditions that are common in baking.
The rich red of beets comes from betalain, a natural pigment that beets make from an amino acid. (Betalain gets its name from beta vulgaris, the scientific name for beetroot.) However, betalain breaks down and turns yellow or brown unless you know how to protect it during the baking process.
To help keep the beetroot’s red color of these horse treats we will use:
- Slightly acidic ingredients
- Low heat
- Storage away from light
- Airtight storage
Betalain needs acidic conditions to stay red. Basic or neutral mixtures cause the betalain to break down. That means we need a dough that has a pH under 7.
Two acidic ingredients — honey and lemon juice — will offset the higher pH of baking soda, which is basic. Without a mild acid, the red color vanishes as the treats bake in the oven (I know because I saw it happen testing an earlier version of this recipe).
We’ll form the heart shapes by hand. The dough is too soft to roll out for cutting with a cookie cutter. Plus you might really like the whimsical look of hand-shaped heart horse treats.
To form the hearts, roll a bit of dough into about 1/4 inch thick log about 2 inches long. Break it in half and push the broken ends together side by side. The free ends naturally curve away from each other. Instant heart!