Put away the food coloring. F&W's Ben Mims has three tips for making gorgeous and glittery Christmas cookies using ingredients you never would have guessed could be beautiful.

December 23, 2014

Put away the food coloring. F&W's Ben Mims has three tips for making gorgeous and glittery Christmas cookies using ingredients you never would have guessed could be beautiful.

1. Raid your pantry for color. Green wasabi peas, tan fenugreek seeds and brown cocoa nibs are just a few pantry items that can become instant decorations after a pass through the spice grinder. Pink peppercorn skins (photo) are one of the more dramatic options. Just put pink peppercorns in a sieve and rub them with your fingers until the skins fall through. Applied to just-glazed cookies, these items all add a touch of savory flavor that's a welcome break from all that sugar. Bonus: no artificial color.

Related: Ultimate Christmas Cookies Guide

2. Go high-contrast for an elegant look. Make pitch-black royal icing: Follow this recipe, but swap out 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar for black cocoa, a pastry chef-favorite that lends dramatic color and a super-dark chocolate flavor. Then, apply shiny silver or white dragées. Your cookies will look like they got dressed up early for New Year's Eve.

Related: How to Make Christmas Candy

3. Harness the magical properties of caramel. You'll need exactly one ingredient to make caramel. Just cook a cup of sugar in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, shaking and swirling occasionally until it turns dark. While it's still hot, drizzle it on your cookies. Let cool and enjoy, or tap the cookies carefully with a spoon to get a shattered-glass look.

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