Baking cookies and other treats around the holidays is a tradition many participate in annually. I personally am not a huge sweets lover, but I do like going through the process of making them with my family members (my daughter LOVES it) and it’s fun to share the cookies with those we love. Because I like to cook from scratch and try to avoid unhealthy preservatives and synthetic food additives, I always struggled with baking cookies and then smothering them with red dye #40 and other junk. So for many years we just had plain white frosting on our holiday shaped cookies (they still tasted good 🙂 ~ but looked a little blah). Well, I’ve come upon a whole game changer this year and we are finally ready to add some color to our cookies – the natural way!
Yesterday at my local co-op, I found some natural food dyes. I picked up a red (made from beet extract) and green (made from turmeric and spirulina) and only had intentions of using the dyes for coloring the cookie frosting. Then it dawned on me that I could potentially make colored sugar to use for additional decorating and so I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised!
I used 1/3 cup sugar and mixed it with 1 tsp of the red dye and mixed it together evenly. It didn’t look red enough, so I added 1/2 tsp more. Once pleased with the color, I spread the sugar out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
I repeated the task with the green dye as well, but for this I only used 1 tsp of the green dye.
The I turned the oven on to 350°F for only two minutes and shut it off. You just want to warm the oven enough so it can dry out the sugar and not actually cook it/burn it. Once the oven was warmed up, I placed the baking sheets in the oven and set the timer for 45 mins.
At 45 mins, I took a spatula and tapped the sugar to break it apart a bit more and spread it out evenly again and placed it back into the oven for another 45 minutes. That’s IT!
It turns out the baking process lightened the sugar coloring a bit, which I was pleased with for the green (it turned from dark blueish green to a lovely pine green), but next time I’ll likely add 2 tsp of the red dye to try for an even darker red outcome.
Store the colored sugar in an air tight container and use as needed. That’s it. I’m so excited about it that I think I’ll go grab the yellow and blue colors to experiment with them as well.
In the next day or two, I’m going to be posting a recipe about how to bake my great great grandma Selma’s sugar cookies… a recipe that is nearly 100 years old! Don’t miss out!
All products used in this recipe were generously provided by, Lakewinds Food Co-op.