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Icing Colors: 10 Useful Tips and Tricks!

1. Always use gel paste color; never liquid food coloring!

Liquid food coloring is a liquid, and liquid effects the consistency (thickness) of your icing. Remember: Consistency is an essentially of cake decorating! Gel paste color will not thin your icing and is the best choice for creating beautifully colored icing.

2. Plan to make enough colored icing to complete your entire project.

Nothing is more frustrating than running out of your color and scrambling to match your original shade. It's better to err on the side of caution and make a little more than you think you need. Creating a match is possible, but it can be difficult!

3. Start light and build up your color.

Add color a little at a time to achieve the color you truly want. Remember : The longer the color stays in the icing, the deeper it will become. It's a good idea to color your icing an hour before using to reveal the final shade. If your icing becomes too dark, you have two options for toning it down: Add more white icing or add White White icing color.

4. Get a truer gray with principles color theory.

Most people would assume that you can add a small drop of black coloring to white icing to create gray.... WRONG! The issue is that black icing color usually has a green or purple tinge to it that won't yield that perfect gray. When the "tinge" color is revealed, you must use color theory to perform a bit of color correction. Think by to elementary school and the color wheel. Remember: Colors directly across from each other are complementary. When complementary colors are mixed, they create a neutral/grey. If you discover that your "tinge" is purple, add a bit of yellow to yield a truer gray. If your "tinge" is green, add a bit of red to adjust to a truer gray.

5. Obtain navy by adding a bit of this color.

Navy can be a difficult color to achieve. One would think that royal blue mixed with a little black would cover it, but that's not always the case. To obtain a nice navy, try adding a little purple/violet instead. This works amazingly when coloring cake batter!

6. Beware of pink, red, purple/violet and black!

If you don't add these colors gradually and sanitarily taste the icing along the way, you will inadvertently put in too much of these colors and create a buttercream with a very bitter after taste. We've all tasted it..... If you happen to go overboard, you can decrease the bitterness by adding more favoring to the icing. Just be careful with these four colors!

7. Opt to obtaining pink and red with color dusts instead of gel paste.

Using color dust to achieve pink and red will prevent the bitter after taste mentioned above.

8. Keep purple/violet away from sunlight and strong fluorescent light!

I've learned this one the hard way... If left exposed to sunlight and strong fluorescent light, purple/violet icing WILL fade to light blue. After you finish your project, cover it and place it in a room away from windows and constant light. Also, be mindful of this when setting up your treats at their final destination!

9. Start with chocolate icing to achieve black.

Black can be difficult to get from white, so start with chocolate and GRADUALLY add your black icing to avoid the bitter after taste.

10. Don't want black chocolate icing on your cake? Consider buying black instead!

I NEVER make black icing! It's just too much of a pain, and I usually don't need a large amount of it so I just go out and buy it. It's a small price to pay for the convenience!


Avoid color blending from darker icing (and sprinkles) to lighter icing.

Another one I've learned the hard way.... If left at room temperature or warmer, darker colors will bleed into light colors. To avoid this, I recommend adding dark accents last and keeping your project refrigerated with humidity control. You can also opt to add the darker color right before delivery or (gasp) at the venue. The same is true of sprinkles. They may bleed, so it's better to add these accents right before delivery!

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