My claim to fame is not cake decorating. Nor, can I decorate cookies as splendidly as many talented decorators out there. Over the years, I’ve used a wide variety of cheat tools and ideas. I track them down anywhere I can find them. I like to Get Creative with Food Coloring. It allows me to turn something delicious into something visually appealing, as well.
Over the years I’ve collected cheat sheets from magazines and websites. One of my favorite cheat sheets comes from the May 2012, Food Network Magazine. The article is called, Frost by Numbers: How to Make Frosting Colors. It’s a brilliantly colored layout of icing colors using the basic 4 colors and with the exact food coloring ratios you’ll need to recreate the colors. Now this isn’t the only resource out there. Queen has a page on their site promoting their product, Queen Gel Food Color. Taste Essence also has a great list of colors. They are a step above the basic colors. You’ll need to create your basic colors with the primaries and then use those to create even more rich colors.
Funny story…as I was gathering all of my decorating supplies together for this picture, I became shockingly aware that I have a ridiculous amount of decorating supplies. And I am NOT a decorator. There are 4 bottles of almond extract, alone! Let’s not even talk about the 5 jars of blue sprinkles and sugars! However, I swear to you, I am not a hoarder. I have no idea how this happened. My guess is it’s like when your at the store and you can’t recall if you have ketchup, so you buy some…just in case.
Creating colors is a lot fun. Might I suggest that you make sure to have extra powdered sugar on hand. Every once and a while, I’ll follow the directions and the color won’t come out just right. Do OVER! Keep in mind, that your color will mute as it dries. So if you find yourself in a situation where you can recreate the icing, don’t panic. It will lighten up a few shades once it is dry. Also, having a extra powdered sugar on hand, allows you remedy an over watered icing, which happens…to me…a lot.
A word of caution, be extra careful when creating colors. I’ve done some searching and haven’t found a specific amount, but repeatedly came across information about using too much red. Apparently, it can change the flavor of your icing when used in large amounts. However, there are food colorings out there that do not have a flavor and won’t effect your icing. With those, you can go bold.
One startling reminder I came acrosse as I researched the red food dye and flavoring, was that if you use food coloring often (or consume it often), you really should be focusing on natural food dyes. We’ve all heard about the complications of using food coloring. “Research has also associated food dyes with problems in children including allergies, hyperactivity, learning impairment, irritability and aggressiveness.” So, for me, I’ll be switching over to more natural dyes as I use up my existing stock pile…or maybe sooner given the size of my collection.
Adding color and flavoring to your icings can make simple treats into something special. I like to bake up shortbread for tea. Depending on the tea, I’ll add some flavored extract and coloring to enhance the flavor of the tea. For example, I’ll make a lavender and a lemon icing for an Earl Gray tea.
Get Creative with Food Coloring and you won’t be sorry. The holiday’s are a fun time to experiment with color, too. Whip up an half dozen colors and some sugar cookies for a fun cookie decorating afternoon. Think outside the box and create your own holiday color palette. Do what you enjoy and it will show.