DIY coloured sugar sprinkles
At some point it became trendy to refer to fine, coloured sugar used to decorate cookies as sanding sugar (and charge ridiculous amounts of money for it). But I’ve always known this kind of stuff simply as sugar sprinkles.
When I made Sugar Cookie Love Bites for Valentine’s Day, I really wanted to pretty them up with pink sugar sprinkles. And since I’d rather avoid all of the crazy dye additives used in most brands of sugar sprinkles, I decided to make some myself.
You can make your own sugar sprinkles in about the amount of time it would take you to throw together a bowl full of sugar cookie batter, and you likely already have everything you need to make them at home. If you need food colouring, the India Tree brand of (vegan) natural decorating colours have perfect tints and consistencies for making DIY sugar sprinkles without the bitter taste some synthetic dyes have. Check out their list of online and retail stores that carry their products.
1/4 cup unbleached cane sugar
Food colouring of your choice
Note: to make this pink sugar, I used 10 drops of the natural beet-based colour from the India Tree set of three colours.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 170ºF.
2. Place the sugar in a small bowl and add two drops of food colouring. (I recommend starting with just two drops of dye to get an idea of how strong a tint the food colouring will lend to the sugar.)
3. Using the back of a soup spoon, mix the sugar together until the food colouring is evenly distributed.
4. Add more food colouring a drop or two at a time and continue to mix the sugar until you get the desired colour. Keep in mind that some of the colour will “bake-out” or fade when the sugar is used atop cookies and baked in the oven. Because of this, make your sugar a few shades darker than you want it to be so that it doesn’t fade to a lighter shade than you wanted when baked.
5. Spread the sugar on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (the paper will make it much easier to transfer the sugar to a jar later on). Place the cookie sheet in the oven and dry the sugar for 10-15 minutes.
6. When the sugar is done drying in the oven, remove the cookie sheet and set it aside, allowing the sugar to cool to room temperature.
7. When the sugar is cooled, break up any lumps that may have formed and transfer it to a tightly sealed jar. Store in a cool, dry place (not in the refrigerator).
8. The sugar may clump up a bit after it’s been in the jar for a little while. Simply shake the jar (with the lid on) and that should break up any lumps.