Gluten Free Sugar Cookies with Beet-Dyed Sugar Sprinkles
Valentine’s Day is probably my favorite holiday, and for all the right reasons…
Among all of my mother’s from-scratch baked goods, her sugar cookies have always been my favorite. I was a little nervous converting her recipe to a gluten free, dairy free version, but I managed to get it right the very first try! These cookies taste just like the “real deal,” and I’ve yet to find anyone that can tell they are gluten free.
The transformation is in large part due to the combination of sweet white rice flour* and King Arthur Flour’s fantastic gluten free multipurpose flour*, which doesn’t have any of the bitter notes or course texture that you find in many gluten free flours. And unlike many gluten free cookie mixes that produce a sticky, wet batter that is impossible to work with, this dough can be rolled out and cut with your favorite Valentine cookie cutters.
Naturally-Dyed Sugar Sprinkles
I love the simplicity of sugar cookies decorated with colored granulated sugar, but I’m not a fan of the artificial dyes that are frequently used to create them. I’ve recently made a more conscious effort about eliminating artificial dyes from my family’s food, largely due to this report published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. But you don’t need artificial dyes to add incredibly brilliant colors to your foods… just step into your garden.
My daughters expect pink and red hearts for Valentine’s Day, and the beets from my winter garden easily provide these colors. To dye sugar, simply squeeze a few drops of beet juice directly onto the sugar and stir… there isn’t enough moisture to dissolve the sugar, and you’ll be surprised just how far a few drops of natural beet pigments will go.
You don’t need to cook beets… I get the best results from squeezing the stems of beet leaves in a garlic press. Turn the press upside down so that the juice runs out the backside… you’ll get more juice, and you won’t have to worry about minced stems dropping into your sugar.
The hue and intensity of color varies with different types of sugar (e.g., white granulated, Demerara, etc), so experiment with a number of types to find what you like best.
Isn’t Valentine’s Day about spending time with the people you love? Grab them and have fun making these sugar cookies together!
- 1 and ½ sticks Earth Balance buttery sticks
- ¾ cups granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (not imitation; McCormick brand is gluten free)
- 1 large egg
- 4 tsp almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
- 1¾ cup gluten free multipurpose flour* (King Arthur Flour Company preferred)
- ¼ cup sweet white rice flour* (plus more for rolling)
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
- ¼ tsp salt
- sugar for decorating
- Thoroughly cream buttery sticks and sugar.
- Add egg to creamed mixture and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add almond milk and vanilla extract to creamed mixture and mix well.
- Sift together dry ingredients and blend into the creamed mixture. Chill at least one hour (I usually make this dough in the morning, for baking that evening).
- Generously sprinkle sweet rice flour on a sheet of waxed paper. Remove one-third of the refrigerated dough, sprinkle with rice flour, and cover with another piece of wax paper. Roll dough between waxed paper to ~1/8 inch thickness.
- Cut in desired shapes with cutters, sprinkle with sugar, and bake on greased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes.
- Remove from pan to wire rack and cool.
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