Some of us get our spring pastel color fix by dyeing eggs and threading them on a so-called Easter Egg Tree. Others, like me, bring color into the kitchen with some seasonal blooms…hint, hint: our new Flower Sessions. Just in time for Easter, blogger Erin Nichols of Erin Cooks shows us that food dyes aren’t just for eggs this time of year with her Rainbow Sugar Cookies, a colorful and homemade addition to any Easter basket. Keep your dyes handy this summer, too. Red, white and blue star-shaped cookies on the menu for Fourth of July? - Maggie
Are you good at decorating sugar cookies? I’m not. Not even a little bit. I do love to eat them though so I’ve probably consumed dozens of very badly, personally iced cookie cutouts in my lifetime. These days, consider yourself lucky if your treat gets even a layer of single-colored icing from me.
If you’ve played me in Draw Something — the insanely popular mobile device app – then you’re very familiar with the fact that I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. What? Draw a house? You can’t tell that’s a house? That off-center rectangle right there is a chimney! Duh. Needless to say if I can’t sketch simple shapes on an iPad, then wielding a pastry bag full of precious pink icing isn’t going to be a pretty sight either.
So, I like to think up clever ways to make pretty things that I don’t have to ruin with frosting. Like these thick and chewy sugar cookies. I think they’re rather stunning and dyeing the dough, rolling it out in rainbow strips, and then cutting out cute Easter -themed shapes didn’t make me want to cry or have a single kitchen fit.
For a little added flair, since making the cookies was such a breeze, I even packaged them in pretty self-standing bags and accessorized with seasonal ribbon. Who needs frosting? Not me! Want to make these simple treats at home? Let me walk you through the process.
- 1 cup butter, unsalted
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. In a bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
2. In a second bowl, combine and mix well the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then stir the flour into the butter mixture 1 cup at a time.
3. Using a 1-cup measuring scoop divide the prepared dough equally into 5 parts. If too little or too much dough remains as you create the fifth dough ball make adjustments accordingly.
Dyeing the Dough
4. There will be less cleanup necessary in-between dyeing the dough if you follow this color sequence: begin with red, then purple, followed by blue, green, and end with yellow. Be sure to thoroughly wipe out the mixing bowl before you create the yellow dough or you might end up with streaks.
5. To begin, place one ball of dough into the bowl of your mixer. Add 8-10 drops of red food coloring (this is entirely subjective and really depends on how dark or light you would like the end color to be). Turn on your mixer and allow the dough to process until the color is equally distributed and no longer streaky. Remove the dough when you are satisfied with the color and proceed with the next color described in the above sequence. For tips on creating colors with food coloring click here.
6. When all of your dough balls have been dyed place them in a bowl (or on a platter) in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
Shaping the Dough
7. Place a rack into the middle position and then preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8. Lightly flour a surface. Then slice each dough ball in half. Roll one half of each ball into a rope approximately 3/4-inch wide and 9-inches in length. Place the ropes of dough side-by-side and then gently roll the dough out until it is slightly thicker than 1/4 inch. If your dough seams are loose gently press them together with your fingers and them smooth out any indentation with the rolling pin.
9. Cut out the dough with the cookie cutters of your choice being sure to angle the cutters so that at least 3 colors are included on the cookie. Place the cookies at least 2 inches apart on a greased or silpat covered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. The bottoms of the cookies should only be very lightly browned. Allow the cookies to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet and them place them on a wire rack to rest.
10. Using a knife, carefully separate the remaining rolled out dough back into 5 color-coded piles. Re-shape the dough into smaller logs, place them side-by-side on your floured surface and repeat the steps above until you have used as much of your rainbow colored dough as possible. Then begin the process again with your remaining original dough halves. Note: Each time you re-shape your dough the space in between sections will shrink and more colors will show on your cookies.
All photos styled and photographed by Erin Nichols.
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