Coconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icing

Coconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icing

I know what you’re thinking.

Are those cookies really that color? Naturally?

To which my response would be YOU BET YOUR ASS THEY ARE.

If you were here, you’d look at me with wide, confounded eyes that demand an explanation. To which I would go on and on and on about that one time I accidentally bought natural, powdered food coloring in Paris and then found it – four years later – at the bottom of my cookie cutter drawer (yep, that exists). And then decided I was going to change the face of Valentine sugar cookies, forever.

Obviously using red beet powder as a natural food coloring isn’t anything new, but what you can’t see is that these cookies are made with coconut oil, which means they’re not nearly as terrible for you as those ones that are made with vegan butter (oldie but a goodie). They’re also made with powdered cane sugar, which means they’re equally as terrible for you (as far as sugar goes) as other sugar cookies, but I’ve nearly eliminated the possibility of you turning out a batch of rock-hard sugar cookies. And those sprinkles on top? Oh, they’re just crushed, freeze-dried raspberries. And yes, they get stuck in your teeth.

Freeze dried raspberriesCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingFreeze dried raspberry sprinklesCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icing

Although these cookies probably say otherwise, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. And since my Oma taught me to keep my mouth shut when I’ve got nothing nice to say (typical old lady advice), I’m going to keep my cynical thoughts to myself and let those of you who do enjoy your boxes of heart shaped chocolates and dozen red roses, enjoy them without some vitriolic, negative Nancy adding her two cents about the greed-driven hijacking of what was once a pretty badass holiday.

But because I think it’s important (for those of you who celebrate) to have options on Valentine’s Day, I’ve gathered more than a few recipes that will come in handy in the event you wanna make your better half something homemade, that isn’t a batch of hippy-dippy sugar cookies. I’ve got traditional almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves, (+ a not-so-traditional raw version of the almond linzer cookies with cherry preserves) (ok, those are a little hippy-dippy), the easiest two-ingredient chocolate moussedouble chocolate brownies studded with fresh raspberries, and salted chocolate truffles that you could totally wrap up in a homemade heart-shaped candy box and basically win at Valentine’s Day.

Coconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icingCoconut oil sugar cookies with naturally colored icing

Notes: The instructions need to be followed exactly. If you add the vanilla before the almond milk or don’t completely melt the coconut oil, your cookies are not going to turn out. I literally tested these cookies at least 15 times, and every step and way each ingredient is added impacts the final product. For the icing, the brown rice syrup (you could substitute corn syrup) is necessary so that the icing hardens like royal icing made with eggs. I made the icing with 1/8, 1/4, and 1/2 teaspoon red beet powder and preferred the deep magenta color of 1/2 teaspoon. 1/4 teaspoon looks like this and 1/8 will be pale pink. The quality of your beet powder will also impact the color, so keep that in mind. If you can’t get your hands on any, you can substitute your favorite colored juice for the water measurement; I recommend beet, blueberry, or cherry juice. However, the color won’t be nearly as vibrant as if you used the powder. Each icing recipe makes enough for six piped cookies, so if you want to go the all white or all magenta route, double the recipe.

COCONUT OIL SUGAR COOKIES WITH NATURALLY COLORED ICING

Cookies
6 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (but not hot)
3/4 cup powdered cane sugar
3 tablespoons almond milk, warm
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/3 cups unbleached flour

Magenta icing
1/2 teaspoon red beet powder
1 1/2 teaspoons water, warm and divided
1/2 cup powdered cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon brown rice syrup

White icing
1 1/2 teaspoons water, warm
1/2 cup powdered cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon brown rice syrup

Extras
Freeze dried raspberries, crushed
Coconut sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper; set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the coconut oil and powdered sugar on medium speed for 30-45 seconds, just until smooth. Add the almond milk, one tablespoon at a time, and mix until each tablespoon is incorporated (scraping down the sides as needed). Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined. Add the baking soda, sea salt, and 1 cup of the flour. Beat on medium speed for 10-15 seconds, until about half of the flour is incorporated, then add the remaining 1/3 cup and beat just until all the flour disappears. Press the dough with your fingertips, it should feel soft but retain its shape when moulded. If it feels too dough-y, add an additional tablespoon of flour and mix until combined. If it feels too dry, add an additional tablespoon of almond milk and beat until combined.

Since the texture of the dough changes when it sits for too long, we’re going to roll it out immideately. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle (liberally) with flour. Roll the dough out until it’s 1/4″ thick. Using a 3″ heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough 12 times and carefully transfer the pieces to the prepared baking sheet. You can re-roll the dough scraps, but the texture will not be the same (and they may even be too crumbly to roll). Transfer baking sheet to freezer and chill for 10 minutes (this helps the cookies to retain their shape while baking), then bake at 350˚F for 9-10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the icing. For this method, we’re going to use a piping bag fitted with a 2 point tip (to line the cookies) and then we’ll be using a squirt bottle (to flood them). If you don’t have/can’t find piping bags, snag an extra squirt bottle for the lining process. Or just drizzle the icing over the cookies.

Prepare the magenta icing by mixing together the beet powder and 1 teaspoon of the warm water. Add the powdered sugar and the remaining water, and mix until the sugar is combined (it should thicken considerably). Add the brown rice syrup and whisk just until combined. For the white icing, whisk together the water and powdered sugar, then whisk in the brown rice syrup.

Piping: Transfer about 1/3 of each icing mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 2 point tip and then outline each cookie. Allow the icing to harden for about 10 minutes. Squeeze any icing remaining in the bag back into the bowl and whisk to remove any pieces that may have hardened. Dilute with warm water in 1/4 teaspoon increments. When you lift the spoon to drizzle the icing in the bowl, it should disappear and sink into the other icing within three seconds. You shouldn’t need to add more than 1/2 teaspoon of water to reach this consistency. Transfer the flood icing to a squirt bottle and flood each cookie. Each recipe makes enough icing for 6-7 cookies, so don’t be too liberal with your flooding. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to spread the icing all over the cookie, careful not to bump the piped edges. Wait until you’ve flooded each cookie, then finish with raspberry or coconut sprinkles.

Cookies will keep in an air tight container, at room temperature, for up to five days. I recommend not icing the cookies, if using the magenta colored icing, until 12-24 hours before you plan on serving them.

Yield: 12 3″ heart-shaped cookies

68 Comments

  • Reply Chelsea O'Leary 10 February 2015 at 8:12 AM

    You’re seriously my favorite. These look fantastic, girl! How do you keep getting better and better in the kitchen? Keep it up, lady.

    P.S. I love the tidbit about coconut oil and powered cane sugar. :)

  • Reply Eva 10 February 2015 at 8:48 AM

    And she does it again! These are incredible, Ashlae! I can’t believe that vibrant color comes from beets. These cookies are brilliant and I am totally in awe of your creativity here. Hippy dippy sugar cookies, ftw!

    ps – I’m a Vday hater, too.

  • Reply cynthia 10 February 2015 at 9:12 AM

    This is pure magic. That color, those “sprinkles,” the insanely dedicated testing — you are a freakin ROCKSTAR, Ashlae!!!! I’m in love with these. (Also, apropos of nothing, your vanilla extract has been TRANSFORMING everything I make. It is like what whoever came up with the phrase “next level” wished they experienced when they coined it. So. Good.)

  • Reply Millie |Add A Little 10 February 2015 at 9:22 AM

    Such a gorgeous colour – I love the vibrancy!

  • Reply J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats 10 February 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Beets really are the best natural dye. I use them to make vegan cashew buttercream frosting. The pale pink is so enticing, especially if you can get your hands on some natural colored sprinkles to go on top.

  • Reply Belinda @themoonblushbaker 10 February 2015 at 10:08 AM

    A best use for beets in a long time, and even better in a dessert too! I am going to have to be brave next time I visit the store and pick up some of this powder; it is stunning. Also two thumbs up for freeze dried fruit addition! They are nature’s sherbets :)

  • Reply Abby 10 February 2015 at 10:11 AM

    ooh, i just love these cookies, Ashale! I cannot. wait. to give them a try. your coconut oil recipes are always ah-mazing! <3

  • Reply Michelle @ Hummingbird High 10 February 2015 at 10:32 AM

    ADORABLE. <3

  • Reply oni 10 February 2015 at 10:51 AM

    YASSSSSSS HUNNY! so making these

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar 10 February 2015 at 11:36 AM

    oof, these are too freaking cute!! dying to make this for my sweetie!

  • Reply Jessie Snyder | Faring Well 10 February 2015 at 1:41 PM

    Dido on the v-day feelings – but these cookies put up a gorgeous fight! Love love love. Nice work mastering that coconut oil, lady, you rule!

  • Reply Megan Gordon 10 February 2015 at 2:27 PM

    You are a genius. And I can’t wait to make these. Strong work, lady.

  • Reply Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship 10 February 2015 at 2:31 PM

    These are soooo pretty!!!

  • Reply Dawn 10 February 2015 at 4:03 PM

    Excellent. My kids always drool over icing clad cookies, they are always asking me to coat the gingerbread cookies I make every Christmas. And I’m always reluctant, finally a healthy solution! I imagine maple sugar powder would work too??

    • Reply Ashlae 12 February 2015 at 11:12 AM

      Hi Dawn –

      I’m not sure the maple powdered sugar would work, as I’ve never used it. I have used powdered sugar made from sucanat (and corn starch) and found it to be a bit grainy for my liking.

  • Reply Hanna Simon 10 February 2015 at 5:06 PM

    I was a little skeptical at first because of the lack of eggs and using oil in place of butter but, I’ve got to hand it to you lady…you’ve officially turned me into a ‘hippy-dippy’ sugar cookie lover. I followed the directions word for word and my cookies turned out perfect. I don’t have the tools to pipe frosting so I drizzled it over each cookie and made the colored coconut sprinkles. Which are brilliant, by the way.

    • Reply Ashlae 12 February 2015 at 11:11 AM

      Hi Hanna –

      Hippy-dippy sugar cookies for da win! They really are the best.

  • Reply Kelly 10 February 2015 at 6:17 PM

    Beautiful cookies and I love that they are natural. Pinning now!

  • Reply Xina 10 February 2015 at 7:40 PM

    Ashlae sass is my favourite <3 thanks for sharing your amazing recipes!! xxx

  • Reply Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health 11 February 2015 at 4:05 AM

    i have mixed feelings about vday but again, who doesnt love chocolate and flowers right? it makes me mad that why just one day of the year..ya im getting cynical thoughts so i will keep quiet as well. i could see these cookies happening soon, thanks for those tips.

  • Reply Caroline 11 February 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Cannot tell you how much I’m loving the natural color of these cookies!!!!! Genius! Pinning to make this weekend with my daughter. These are just beautiful!

  • Reply Ashley 11 February 2015 at 6:12 PM

    These are the prettiest cookies I have everrrrr seen!!! The colors are ah-mazing!!!!! I love me a good, thick sugar cookie. Mmmmhm

  • Reply kristie {birch and wild} 11 February 2015 at 7:56 PM

    This icing is the most beautiful color. You have inspired me to experiment with fruit dying. You get the taste of the fruit and beautiful, natural coloring too. Perfect.

  • Reply Raja Makan 11 February 2015 at 9:45 PM

    Good recipe. i have an idea, how about if the red powder we change with chili powder? the best tricks for ex someone.

    • Reply Ashlae 12 February 2015 at 11:10 AM

      Hi Raja –

      HA! That is the best trick for an ex someone. What’s that saying? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned? ;)

  • Reply Kathryn 12 February 2015 at 3:08 AM

    You, lady, are a cookie baking genius.

  • Reply Sonja 12 February 2015 at 6:00 AM

    I LOVE these! The vibrant pink is just gorgeous. And hey – we have beet root powder laying around from making natural chapstick and blush! :)

  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens 12 February 2015 at 6:45 AM

    Yeah Valentine’s Day isn’t really my cup of tea either… I do, however, really like cookies. You are a coconut oil connoisseur, I can’t wait to try these out!

  • Reply Arie 12 February 2015 at 6:46 AM

    I don’t own a rolling pin so I made the dough and pressed it into a loaf pan. I also don’t own a stand mixer so I followed the steps and mixed everything by hand, and my dough came out just perfect. Really lovely recipe, thank you.

    • Reply Ashlae 12 February 2015 at 11:09 AM

      Hi Arie –

      Good to know the recipe can be made into sugar cookie bars! Also, in the event you find yourself in that situation again.. a wine bottle makes for an eeeexcellent rolling pin. :)

  • Reply Jade Sheldon-Burnsed 12 February 2015 at 1:27 PM

    Gosh, how gorgeous are these!!!?

  • Reply Jen 12 February 2015 at 3:01 PM

    I LOVE frosted sugar cookies. Thanks for the veganization! How do you think acai powder would work for the frosting? I have some at home already, so would prevent a trip to the store.

    • Reply Ashlae 13 February 2015 at 7:03 AM

      Hi Jen –

      I’m not sure as I haven’t used acai powder before. You can always test it out and, if you don’t like the color, make a new batch of icing. :)

  • Reply Ines 12 February 2015 at 4:23 PM

    Your cookie photos are totally gorgeous! =)

  • Reply Rebecca 12 February 2015 at 8:59 PM

    Oh, I am SO ON BOARD with your V-Day feelings, but these cookies are to DYE for! LOVE them ;)

  • Reply Reese @ Bellalunaknox 12 February 2015 at 11:18 PM

    Perfectly done, those cookies are so gorgeous. Good job lady!

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  • Reply Carol 14 February 2015 at 3:52 AM

    great recipe and a lovely cookies!!

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  • Reply Jess Kelley 14 February 2015 at 5:26 AM

    These cookies make me so happy! I love everything from the color and natural dye to the coconut oil and almond milk in the dough!! Exceptional job!

  • Reply Kelsey M 14 February 2015 at 9:26 AM

    Into Valentine’s Day or not, these cookies are truly glorious. I love the natural icing you have- I’ll definitely be keeping it tabbed for future holidays as well!

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  • Reply Liz @ Floating Kitchen 14 February 2015 at 9:11 PM

    These are really gorgeous. The colors are fabulous and make me oh so happy. Pretty amazing little heart cookies for someone who doesn’t like Valentine’s Day! :-)

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  • Reply Kari 15 February 2015 at 6:01 PM

    Using freeze dried raspberries was so clever! They add a great pop of color!
    Kari

  • Reply Jodi 15 February 2015 at 11:20 PM

    Just getting here now, a few days after v-day, but I’m thinking these little hearts will make a great ‘random tuesday I love you almost more than I love cookies’ treat for the man. Plus I much prefer random tuesday acts of love, I’m with you on the whole Feb 14th thing, but let’s keep Oma happy here. Pretty much the prettiest sugar cookie around, lady – I can only imagine how difficult eating 15 trials of these was for you two, rough job. xx

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  • Reply Anna 21 February 2015 at 11:24 AM

    These look amazing :D

  • Reply Lotta-VeggieTown 22 February 2015 at 1:33 PM

    They look both tasty and beautiful! What a great Valentines treat!

  • Reply Kate 23 February 2015 at 1:51 PM

    They look 100% the prettiest sugar cookie around. Don’t imagine I will be finding beet powder any time soon, but am going to try with the fruit juice and see how they turn out. Thanks!

  • Reply Mandy 5 March 2015 at 10:49 AM

    I tried making them.. It failed the first time. But turned up decently the second trial. Yeay! I can serve them for my house warming party next week.

  • Reply Julianne Smith 21 March 2015 at 6:58 PM

    These are pretty great. I found the thinner cut outs slightly chalky, but the apricot thumbprint cookies I made with the leftover dough were delectable. These are definitely going to be my go to for a vegan cookie. Also, I only had about 1/4 cup powdered sugar, and the rest was granulated, which worked just fine. I used unrefined coconut oil, and again, fine.

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  • Reply Mrsmc52210 4 June 2015 at 12:54 PM

    These look amazing! Was thinking of making them for a pre-k picnic party, but there is a nut allergy in my daughters class… Any suggestions for substitutions on almond milk? I wax thinking cow or coconut milk…

  • Reply Grishma 28 October 2015 at 9:09 AM

    Oh my my! Love this! I am going to give it a try real soon. I do have a question about the natural food colors. The recipe u gave is for magenta color but what else do you recommend for like red, yellow, green, blue etc.. Will really appreciate your reply! Thank u bunch!

    • Reply Ashlae 11 November 2015 at 8:19 AM

      Hi Grishma –

      Unfortunately I haven’t stumbled upon any other natural food colorings that I really, really love. Turmeric is great for yellow/orange, but leaves a pretty strong turmeric taste. Saffron is great as well, but is pretty expensive. For red I like to use cherry juice and, if you’re looking for purple, blueberry juice should do the trick.

  • Reply Clara 24 November 2015 at 8:47 AM

    Ashlae, quick question, does this icing set like royal icing?? many thanks,
    C

    • Reply Ashlae 24 November 2015 at 8:56 AM

      Hi Clara –

      Not immediately, but after a night of setting, yes! However, if your house is too warm the icing will never set like the royal variety. If you have issues, just pop ’em in the fridge and the icing will harden in no time. :)

  • Reply Clara 24 November 2015 at 9:38 AM

    thank youuu, I want to ice some gingerbread cookies and thought about using this icing recipe, but they need to set as Im taking them on a plane for 13 hr to Argentina!!
    thanks again and happy thanks giving :)

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  • Reply Allison - Celebrating Sweets 16 December 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Can the baked cookies (without icing) be frozen for 1 week? I scanned the recipe and comments and didn’t see any mention of this. Forgive me if I missed it. Thanks!

    • Reply Ashlae 16 December 2015 at 11:25 AM

      Hi Allison –

      I’m not sure as I haven’t tried to freeze them. Regardless, fresh > frozen. Always.

      • Reply Allison - Celebrating Sweets 16 December 2015 at 3:17 PM

        I couldn’t agree more. I actually have 5 desserts that I’m baking from scratch on Christmas Eve morning (eeeekkk!) for that very reason. I just thought I could try a “make-ahead” with these. I’ll let you know how they hold up if I try it. Thanks!

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  • Reply jamie 27 February 2016 at 3:48 PM

    I needed to make sugar cookies for a party and I already have my own special recipe but I was out of butter so I panicked for a bit since the car’s unavailable and I couldn’t go out to get more! So then I wondered if I could use coconut oil as an alternative and voila; luckily I found your recipe! I just scrapped my recipe and used yours, doubled it and added some almond extract and a little lemon….Oh…my………..honestly speechless…..I loved it, especially the hint of the coconut-y aroma, ughhhhh, it was just divine! It’s already amazing on its own! Thank you thank you thank you for saving my day Lol

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