Valentine’s Day is just about two weeks away, and that means parties.
Oh, and romance, but I can’t help you with that!
For us food allergic families, it’s also a time to – once again – lament the fact that we can’t participate in so many yummy food traditions.
Take sugar cookies, for example.
Not only are the traditional sugar cookies found in almost every home and shop filled with butter, egg, wheat, and dairy (some major allergens there), but they’re also filled with sugar, a major no-no for a FructMal kiddo like my Jed.
He is 4 years old and had never seen a sugar cookie in his life…until last Christmas.
Last Christmas, I spent a whole day in the kitchen in a baking frenzy with the kiddos, determined to create safe roll out cookies for both of them.
By the end of the day, my little mama heart was happy dancing around the kitchen!
Not only did I make a traditional sugar cookie roll out for Jed free of egg, sugar, butter, and artificial food dyes, but I managed to make Zac a 4 ingredient roll out cookie as well!
Oh, and one other little thing I figured out: how to decorate Jed’s cookies safely, too.
As a child, we decorated our Christmas sugar cookies with sprinkles of colored sugar, waxy chocolate sprinkles, and silver edible balls. None of that is safe for Jed.
While it would probably be okay in the quantities used for sprinkle decorations, I still try to avoid sugar where I can.
The big one for me, though, is the food dyes.
I avoid food dyes for the kids like it’s Draino.
But I really didn’t want Jed’s first sugar cookies to be naked, so I decided to see if I could make my own colored “sugar” from scratch.
I knew it is possible to color your own sugar at home with traditional food coloring, and my Mom used to color coconut shreds that way.
Why wouldn’t it work with powdered dextrose, I wondered?
So I tried it, and…it does!
So here’s how you, too, can make a completely safe, fructose friendly powdery sprinkle for your kiddos sugar cookies this Valentine’s Day (and next year for Christmas)!
All you’ll need is some dextrose and food coloring. Obviously, I’m not talking about your standard grocery store food coloring, since those are nothing but artificial food dyes.
Since coloring sugar usually involves adding a few drops of food coloring to some sugar in a Ziploc Baggie and mushing it together, I tried that first with the dextrose.
These food colors don’t work like artificial food colors, and I wound up with a Baggie full of dextrose and food dye clumps.
So I poured each Baggie into a bowl and gave the boys whisks to break it all up and distribute it throughout the dextrose.
That was better, but still not doing what I had hoped.
Finally, I took the chance and used a coffee grinder to mix it all.
There was a good chance I would be turning my dextrose into powdered sugar this way, which was not what I wanted. But, as I said, it wasn’t working anyway. I figured I would try it before I tossed the experiment into the trash.
Fortunately, it worked!
It did make the dextrose a bit finer than usual, but it wasn’t powdered sugar texture by any means.
(Sorry, but these photos are all from Christmas, hence the green and red coloring. For Valentine’s Day, obviously you could simply make red dextrose.)
To make the green color, I had to use some blue and yellow food coloring together. The red was easier.
As I discovered on Halloween, though, these colors are much more delicate than standard food dye colors. It takes many more drops of the India Tree colors to make a color with some depth than you might expect.
After the dextrose and food coloring are processed in the coffee grinder, I laid the dextrose out on a parchment lined cookie sheet as thinly layered as possible to dry. In short order, the dextrose was nicely dry and “shakeable”.
At that point I grabbed two empty travel spice jars I happened to have in my cabinet and filled them with the homemade dextrose dessert decoration for easy shaking and decorating.
In the end, the red coloring came out looking a little pink, and the green was more of a lime green than a forest green, but I was running short on time and decided to just go with it. It was an experiment, after all!
Fortunately, it turned out much better than I expected once on the cookies (sort of – come back next week for the results)!
So there’s a way to make a fructose friendly, food dye free colored sprinkle for your desserts this year. Enjoy!
- 1 c. dextrose powder
- 10-30 drops of India Tree (or other all-natural) food coloring
- Put the dextrose and food coloring in a coffee grinder.
- Process gently until just combined (try to avoid turning the dextrose into powdered texture).
- Lay the colored dextrose out on a parchment lined cookie sheet to dry.
- Stir the dextrose occasionally on the sheet until dry.
- Store in an airtight container.
- Enjoy decorating your cookies and other desserts with a safe sprinkle!
Come back next week for a “sugar” cookie that is fructose friendly – and potentially vegan!
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