Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Nut-Free Home Baker: Nut-Free Food Coloring, Sprinkles, and More!

Dealing with nut allergies means avoiding bakeries. So now that you have to home bake, what ingredients are safe to use?

Labels don't always reveal all of the information we need. With current labeling laws, they only have to list actual ingredients, not whether or not an item was processed on the same lines as potential allergens. So sometimes we need to do a little more digging to find out.

Through my own research as well as tips from readers of this blog, I've found that nut-free cake and cookie decorating items like sprinkles, colored sugars and food color are some of the most difficult to find.

If you plan to bake much (and you probably will if you have a child with a nut allergy) then ordering safe nut-free items makes sense. Is it as convenient as a trip to the grocery store? Not always, but if you stock up you will have what you need when you need it. Plus, there are more "safe" items available at your local supermarket than ever before.

The list below offers some suggestions on decorating items that are nut-free. A few you can find at the supermarket, but it's worth ordering some of these online items for a huge variety as well as quality and non-artificial colors, etc. Of course, if you have any questions about products mentioned here or other products I haven't mentioned, please contact the company's customer service department for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

Sprinkles/Cookie and Cake Decor

Cake Mate/Betty Crocker--Signature Brands These are readily available at the supermarket and many of these are safe for nut allergies. Here is a post I wrote about Cake Mate. Both Cake Mate and Betty Crocker are made by Signature Brands. In my e-mails and phone calls with this company, they tell me they will list cross-contact info on the package. Please contact Signature Brands directly for specific info.

Wilton. Wilton products are all very well-marked for allergens as well as May Contains type of allergy advisories, but you must read every label. In general their chocolate products are not safe for nut allergies, but many of their sugar decorations are fine to use. It depends on the product, as they may process different items in different facilities.

Food Coloring

Americolor. Food coloring that's entirely nut-free. Karen McNeil, one of my blog readers, clued me into this one. Thanks, Karen! The colors are deep and rich and unlike a lot of the Wilton gel colors, they are safe for nut allergies. A great find! (Note: Wilton has detailed allergy labels. If you are interested in a specific product, check the label for more info.)

McCormick Brand I've used this brand many times for food coloring--they are very helpful when you e-mail or call. Unfortunately they do not list allergen info on their web site. I wrote about their vanilla extract and I also use their food coloring.

Decorative Candies
Divvies. They have amazing candy that you can use for cake decor. In fact, my daughters just used their "star" candies on a beach cake to make "starfish." This company is so awesome, and they have baked treats in addition to candy that is egg-free, dairy-free and nut-free.

Vermont Nut Free Chocolate One of my all-time faves for nut-free sweets, Vermont Nut Free has jelly beans and other nut-free candies you can use on your cakes and cookies. They also have delicious gourmet cocoa powder for baking as well as baking chocolate.

Surf Sweets. These gummy candies (and jellybeans) make great baking décor and they are  gluten-free as well as free of nuts and the other "top 8" allergens. All-natural, GMO-free and organic.

Gimbals. Lots of great choices here including licorice scottie dogs, jellybeans and more, free of the top 8 allergens. All natural.

And remember: Please see the many great baking or prepared nut-free treats resources, located to the right of this page, if you want to purchase premade, nut-free treats!

22 comments:

Maddie said...

Once again another great and helpful post. I have found Cake Mate/Betty Crocker customer service to be awesome. Thanks.

Goody said...

I learn so much coming here! Thanks for the new places to investigate for products.


I've been buying glitter crystals (coloured sugar) from Brand Castle. They are readily available at craft stores.They list peanut-free (but no word on other nuts), though they do contain soy. They have a website brandcastle.com if you need more info. I find it really encouraging that more companies are listing allergens and use of nut-free lines. I paid $3.99 for a 5.5 oz jar. Not bad.

Now, for a nut-free marzipan replacement.

Soften unsalted butter. By hand, work in enough confectioner's sugar to make a consistency you can either mould into shapes, or roll out. You can tint it, flavour it, and it keeps well, tightly wrapped in the fridge. I've used it for small decorations, homemade Halloween pumpkins and candy corn, and to give the top of a cake a smooth, rolled-out layer. Obviously this isn't health food, but when you find yourself thinking, "Gosh, the recipe says to wrap the cake in a layer of marzipan, what shall I do?" (OK you probably won't think that, but humour me)you'll probably have some butter and confectioner's sugar sitting around to improvise with.

Good luck
Goody@Eattheblog

Anonymous said...

Best. Blog. Ever. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you do. Thanks!

rianne said...

i want to make royal icing without using raw eggs and are peanut/tree nut free does anyone know what brand of meringue powder is safe to use?

Jenny said...

I'm pretty sure Just Whites powder is safe, check the label to be sure. It's in the baking aisle of the store in a canister (unrefrigerated.)

rianne said...

thank you! i will check that out...FYI i also contacted king arthur flour about their meringue powder..they said the manufacturer does not certify it to be nut free...

rianne said...

*UPDATE* just to let you guys know that i called deb el about JUST WHITES and they said it is safe to use...was also surprised that they are located 15 min from me!

also just wanted to say I'm glad i found this blog its so helpful...

anyone know how to make royal icing with JUST WHITES? hehe I've never done it before

Jenny said...

You need water, the egg white powder and confectioner's sugar. I believe the Just Whites container may have a royal icing recipe. Happy baking!

Anonymous said...
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Cait said...

Jenny, your blog is truly the best. Thank you so much! I always come here first when I'm looking for anything allergy related for my child. I just wanted to mention that Americolor offers lots of products (in addition to professional-grade food coloring) that are made in a nut-free and peanut-free facility. I'll be making my daughter's birthday cake next month, and I was so excited to find safe fondant, decorating sugars and food pens (great for small detail work) through Americolor.

Jenny said...

Thank you for the suggestions about additional Americolor products. They sound amazing!

Sheri said...

Awesome! I have to say, I love Americolor! Their food coloring is great, and I used their coloring sand on my daughter's cake. Worked wonderfully and tasted great! They do have a meringue powder, too. I get a lot of it from Amazon. I have had a hard time finding the Betty Crocker sprinkles in stores.

ccmommy said...

We have also used Festival sprinkles. I found them at Hobby Lobby. They are marked as peanut free and when I contacted them they said they also tree nut free.

Unknown said...

Agree with Cait! I don't know what I would do without this blog! Would love to add some info...Chefmaster colors are totally tree and peanut free also, they make candy colors too. As far as meringue powder, I just found out today that Dawn Foods brand meringue powder is NOT tree nut free (it is peanut free though)

Anonymous said...

Great info! Can anyone tell me anything about the Duff Goldman line by Gartner Studios? I've found things saying the fondant was gluten free but haven't noticed anything about being peanut/tree nuts free. I'm most interested in the color gels and sprinkles. Thanks!

Jenny said...

That is a great question about the Duff products. The different Duff cake décor I've seen has detailed allergy warnings. Some of it does say it may contain peanuts/tree nuts but I'm not sure which ones. If you don't see anything on the package, I suggest calling the company to find out. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Just a follow up to the Duff products..
I was in contact with the manufacturer and they said that The Duff color gels do not contain nuts nor do they come into contact with nuts in the manufacturing facility. They wanted an item number so I didn't ask about all the different types of sprinkles but I will definitely get in contact with them again if needed. Hope this is useful!!

Jenny said...

That's great, thanks for that info! Also, good point about the item number. Companies often want that type of specific information--some companies have several different facilities.

Cathy said...

This blog has been an amazing resource for me, thank you to all of your for your help! As the holidays come closer, the thought of baking makes me nervous (because buying is out of the question!), as it is our first Christmas since learning of a peanut/tree nut allergy. I live in Canada so have the benefit of several alternate brands and thought I would share one with you all - "Dare" is a (local) Canadian totally nut-free facility that makes gum drops and jube jubes for baking. I am not sure if you can get them in the US?

Anonymous said...

This blog is a wonderful resource to navigate peanut and treenut allergy. I just wanted to add that I called a few manufactures today. Both Hershey and Nabisco said they note "May contain" if there is any chance of cross contamination. Duncan Hines on the other hand said they do not recommend using their products if you are concerned about cross contamination since they do NOT label for it.

Anonymous said...

On Duncan Hines, my son has had a reaction after having some cupcake. We believe it was a cross contamination issuw since everything else was PN/TN free.

My question is about First Street food coloring manufactured by Amerifoods Trading Company. The label doesn't list any allergies and I haven't been able to locate the website. Anyone familiar with this product?

Thanks for the great blog!!

April said...

I just found this blog today, and I am in tears! This is exactly what I've been looking for! I have a daughter who has a very sever peanut allergy. This helps a lot! Thank you!!!