… Fun Easter Project and Easier Than Dying Eggs!
Here’s a fun and easy Easter project for the kids – or you – to do with almost no muss, no fuss. Instead of coloring eggs, since that can be so messy, or off-limits if there’s an egg allergy to consider, or you’re just trying to reduce the sugar load by avoiding the sweet frosting of decorated Easter cookies, try watercoloring your cookies instead. I’d never tried this until the other day when I was looking for a simpler way to decorate my cutout cookies with less sugar. And to my surprise, using food coloring mixed with a bit of water worked perfectly.
If you have the cookies already made from my Cashew Butter Cup Easter Cutout Cookies recipe, then you’re all set. If not, I’ve included the recipe below.
To watercolor the cookies with thinned out food coloring, simply brush the watercolor dye onto the prebaked cookies. If a light hand is used so not too much water seeps into the cookie, the cookies will hold their crispness. If they become rather damp, simply place the cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and re-warm them in a 350ºF oven for one to two minutes to evaporate the moisture. The cookies can also be painted while their still in cutout dough form. Paint as desired, then place in the freezer (according to the cookie recipe directions) and let chill before baking. It’s that simple!
I think this could be a fun project to get kids ready for Easter, but I also think this is so simple and entertaining – I mean what kid doesn’t like to play with water and create their own designs, right? – this could also be a great project to entertain the kids during your Easter celebration.
I’m no artist … definitely not … but hopefully these cookies will express the concept and show you just how fun playing with your food can be! And it is so much more accommodating than dying eggs.
Gluten-free Dairy-free Watercolor Easter Cutout Sugar Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: at least 2 hours
Cutout/chill time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 17-20 minutes per baking sheet
Oven temp: 325ºF
Makes: about 24 large or 36 medium-size cookies
2 2/3 cup (320g) gluten-free, all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup extra for dipping cookie cutters – I use Authentic Foods Bette’s Gourmet Four Flour Blend
4 Tablespoons almond flour – I use Honeyville Farms Blanched Almond Flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum – omit if already in your flour mix
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (8 ounces) non-dairy margarine – I use Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread – soy free
1 cup sugar
1 large egg – for egg free version, omit egg and use 1 Tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 Tablespoons water (stir well and let stand 10 minutes to gel)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract – I use McCormick
¼ cup water for each watercolor
3-10 drops food coloring of each color (adjust the lightness and richness with less or more drops) – I use India Tree Nature’s Colors (vegetable colorants)
Preheat oven to 325ºF.
Combine 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, almond flour, baking powder, guar gum, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir well to combine.
Combine margarine and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, scraping down side of bowl once, for about 2 minutes, or until sugar has started dissolving and most of the graininess is gone. Add egg or flax gel and vanilla. Beat on medium-high until smooth.
Add in the flour mixture to the sugar mixture gradually with the mixer on low. Increase speed to medium and blend until well mixed and dough ball begins to form – it won’t form completely.
Form into two balls. Place each ball on a separate sheet of wax paper large enough to completely wrap the ball. Before wrapping the wax paper over the ball, gently press the dough into a large disk about an inch thick. Wrap wax paper around dough, then place each “package” into separate plastic bags. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.
Remove one of the disks from the refrigerator. Place unwrapped dough between two pieces of parchment paper placed on a baking sheet (tip: it won’t stick to parchment paper, but it will to other surfaces), and roll out to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick, making sure the edges don’t get pressed too thin. With parchment paper still on top and bottom of rolled dough, place the baking sheet with the parchment covered dough into the freezer for 15 minutes (tip: freezing will make ALL the difference in how well this dough behaves as mentioned above). Place 1/2 cup flour into a shallow bowl large enough to dip your cookie cutters.
Remove chilled dough from freezer. Remove top sheet of parchment paper, keeping the dough on the bottom parchment and chilled baking sheet. Working quickly, dip your cookie cutters, one at a time, and cut out shapes. If the cut dough doesn’t release from the dough slab, that’s okay, just continue cutting out your shapes and leaving them in place. If your dough begins to stick or soften, return the baking sheet to the freezer for a few minutes. Once all shapes have been cut out, use your flour-dipped spatula and gently slide it under the shapes. If you can, release only the dough surrounding your cutouts, that is desired. If your shape releases too, just gently move it to an open space on the parchment. Once all extra dough has been removed from between shapes, set it aside momentarily, and place a sheet of parchment paper back over the top of the shapes. Return the baking sheet and cutouts to the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes (tip: this will help maintain the shape of the cutouts while baking. If the dough becomes too warm, your shapes will lose their defined edges.) Roll extra dough between parchment sheets to proper thickness. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes. This dough can then be re-rolled and cut into shapes. (tip: Gluten-free dough doesn’t become tough when re-worked as does dough with standard all-purpose flour.)
Remove baking sheet with chilled cutout cookies from freezer, remove top sheet of parchment paper and bake cookies immediately in preheated oven on middle rack.
Bake at 325ºF for 17-20 minutes, or until edges of cookies are just beginning to turn light golden. Remove from oven and transfer parchment with cookies onto a cooling rack. Cool cookies on parchment for about 4 minutes before transferring off of parchment. Continue cooling on rack without paper. Repeat above steps with all of the dough.
Mix the water with the food coloring, one color to each container of water, and stir well. Test the color richness by dipping your paintbrush into the dyed water and tap it onto a paper towel. This will show you how intense the color will be on your cookie.
Paint the prebaked cookies. Reheat cookies in a preheated 350ºF oven, if necessary, for 1-2 minutes to dry out. Eat your favorite watercolored Easter cookie! If you choose to paint the cookies before they are baked, the rebaking step is not necessary. Simply paint your cutout cookies prior to baking, then bake as directed above.
Safe food is a journey … Thrive!™
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