Friday, July 6, 2012

Dye-Free 4th of July - DIY Sugar Sprinkles

My friends Bob and Jessica throw the best 4th of July party in the history of ever. Seriously. I have turned down family events to go to their party. They invite anyone they've ever met with a pulse, so it has a broad pool of guests - and since it's a potluck, a lot of amazing food comes through there. They also do a pinata for the kids, and Jessica makes goody bags for the littler ones who don't want to jump into the scrim to fight for scraps. Even Baby E got in on the goody-bag action! Her favorites were the plastic slinky and the miniature flag.
One of my favorite treats each year has been Jessica's Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes. When Z was just a few weeks old, Jessica even sent me home with her leftover buttercream frosting. I lived off of buttercream-frosted chocolate chip cookies and random protein bars until Hubby would come home from work each day for about a month, until the buttercream ran out.
So I was devastated that we'd have to miss out this year, because of the artificial colors. I've taken a photo of her stuffing one of these into her gob every year (except when she was 4-weeks old, obviously!) I was more sad about missing my photo op than anything else, really, since she's actually been good about saying "no" to dye-filled treats, even if she'd really been wanting one.

But I went ahead and contacted Jessica in advance. Would she be willing to use a Trader Joe's (artificial-ingredient-free) cake mix? And if her frosting contained fake colors, would she be willing to leave a few un-frosted for me? Yes and yes! She even told me her buttercream source, so I could check for myself (Albertson's. Yes. Fake colors. To make the white look whiter.)
So Hubby whipped up a batch of Trader Joe's white buttercream frosting for me (I'm pretty inept at things involving mixing powders with liquids. I tend to over-mix and ruin everything.) I had some India Tree Naturals sprinkles, but they didn't have a red-white-and-blue set. And I only have green, purple, "carnival mix" and chocolate jimmies anyway. Z chose the chocolate ones, but I wanted something more patriotic. So I quickly whipped up some sugar sprinkles! It was super easy!

I used the India Tree Nature's Colors food coloring, so you may need to add more or less if you're using powdered or liquid natural colors from somewhere else, such as the Chocolate Craft Kits ones.

I used Trader Joe's organic sugar, thinking it was a larger grain. It wasn't. Oh well.

India Tree Nature's Colors DIY Colored Sugar
For 1/3 cup of sugar, I used 4 drops of red, and 4-5 drops of blue. (The blue was a bit oozier, so I got a little extra, I think, with each drop.) I could have added more for a deeper color, but I was in a hurry. 

You'll want to do this in a zip-seal baggie, rather than a bottle or hard container. I've been saving and washing empty spice jars and cream cheese tubs in preparation for our dye-free switch, to store all my replacement sprinkles! I had quite an impressive collection, but found loving new homes for them, with kids who aren't affected by the dyes.

The color droplets clumped up in the sugar, and I had to massage them into the sugar to break them up. Shake shake shake. Massage clumps. Shake shake shake. Massage clumps. Etc. So definitely a baggie! You could probably re-use the same one if you're making an array of colors, especially if you start with lighter shades, like yellow, then dump it into your storage container before going to orange, then red, then purple, then blue, then green.
My blue came out fairly green-y looking, but I didn't use a whole lot, considering. You can use this guide, which is based on 1/4 cup frosting, to get a better idea of how much natural food coloring you need to use to get more vibrant colors. 

And as you can see, the sugar was barely visible. (And my frosting job was pretty crappy.) But Z didn't care.

And I got my photo op!
July 4, 2009
July 4, 2010
July 4, 2011
July 4, 2012
*On a side note, due to Jessica's love of Trader Joe's, there were a ton of other safe treats there too. Most notably, the pickle slices happened to be from Trader Joe's which is where I get my dye-free pickles. And E's goody bucket had a TJ's soft fruit and grain bar (like Nutri-Grain,) TJ's yogurt-covered star cookies (which Z loves, and was one of our potluck contributions as well,) and a TJ's juice box. As a responsible big sister, Z lovingly freed Baby E from the danger of the foods she wasn't old enough for yet. How thoughtful!


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