Dark, Deep Colors in Icing

Hiya folks (I'm new) - hi!

I'm not sure this is quite the right place for this question (I didn't see quite the right sub-category in Technique Trouble-shooting) but here 'tis. Also, it's kind of basic.

I am a fan of really dark, deep, lush colors in my royal icing. But to date, I can only achieve this by what I'd call overdyeing the icing: adding too much color, so that when you eat the cookie later it your tongue turns (for instance) blue.

Does anybody have tips for how to make dark colors work? Other than letting the icing sit/the colors develop (which I  have been doing). Right now I use the kind of Wilton colors you dip with a toothpick; I am imagining that perhaps the Americolor gel dyes might help with this? (or not, I'm not sure)

Any help appreciated. Thank you!!!

Original Post

Hi, FancyBaker, Welcome to the site!! Yes, you posted in the right spot. I'm not sure you can avoid staining your tongue with food coloring if the colors are super dark, unless you airbrush the color onto lighter icing. Even then, you will likely get some staining. Some people intensify their black with cocoa powder to get away with using less black food coloring, but I'm not sure they end up stain-free either. However, I do think the Wilton colors color less well than Chefmaster (what I use); I've always had to use SOOOO much more Wilton color to achieve comparable hues with Chefmaster.

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say.

Hi Fancybaker  

I agree with Julia on needing to add lots of wilton colour (I love wilton for pale colours but rarely use them for strong), some brands seem to colour better than others so you might want to try a few different ones to see whats best for you. I use Americolor for stronger colours and have found I don't need to use anywhere near as much gel as I do with wilton - it's also much easier to add out the little squirty bottles too. I usually don't get staining except for black -  you get a bit of a black tongue but it doesn't seem to be as bad as with Wilton.

The rainbow dust range colours well - but I have found colours like red tasted pretty bad even though the strength of the colour was fantastic (whole family now calls them the stinky colours), so I don't use them anymore, though I know lots of people really like them. (it could just be us )

 

Hope that helps and nice to meet you Looking forward to seeing your cookies and lovely bright colours.

Marie

Julia --

Thanks so much for your response. I'm going to give a Chefmaster or two a try, see what I think. Somehow I'm less concerned with black, and all the usual problems it brings with it (since that's a perennial and there are more workarounds out there), than the purples and navys and hunter greens...

Do you find (if you feel like answering) you use the "recommended" amount of Chefmaster in cases when you are trying for a deep, dark color? Or do you overdo it a little?

Thanks again for you help/answer/this forum!

Liz

FancyBaker posted:

Julia --

Thanks so much for your response. I'm going to give a Chefmaster or two a try, see what I think. Somehow I'm less concerned with black, and all the usual problems it brings with it (since that's a perennial and there are more workarounds out there), than the purples and navys and hunter greens...

Do you find (if you feel like answering) you use the "recommended" amount of Chefmaster in cases when you are trying for a deep, dark color? Or do you overdo it a little?

Thanks again for you help/answer/this forum!

Liz

You're welcome. I didn't know Chefmaster had a "recommended" amount - I just use what I need to get the color I want.

Marie - LilleKageHus posted:

Hi Fancybaker  

I agree with Julia on needing to add lots of wilton colour (I love wilton for pale colours but rarely use them for strong), some brands seem to colour better than others so you might want to try a few different ones to see whats best for you. I use Americolor for stronger colours and have found I don't need to use anywhere near as much gel as I do with wilton - it's also much easier to add out the little squirty bottles too. I usually don't get staining except for black -  you get a bit of a black tongue but it doesn't seem to be as bad as with Wilton.

The rainbow dust range colours well - but I have found colours like red tasted pretty bad even though the strength of the colour was fantastic (whole family now calls them the stinky colours), so I don't use them anymore, though I know lots of people really like them. (it could just be us )

Hope that helps and nice to meet you Looking forward to seeing your cookies and lovely bright colours.

Marie

Marie --

Thanks so much for your response. And duly noted re: Wilton and other brands, and liking different kinds for different reasons, will try around. I had never heard of Rainbow Dust range! FWIW I actually have had decent luck with the Wilton (Christmas) red for some reason - less tongue-staining than the cooler (color spectrum-wise) colors.

I have to say, I think I'd try almost any little squirt bottle at this point, rather than the toothpick method with Wilton. As you say, much easier. And with Wilton jars, SO MUCH WASTE. And inaccuracy. And mess. Got a list like 10 things long about what I don't like about the methodology there.

Nice to meet you too! I will plan on posting photos n stuff once I get some things up and going on this end. 

Liz!

Julia M. Usher posted:

Hi, FancyBaker, Welcome to the site!! Yes, you posted in the right spot. I'm not sure you can avoid staining your tongue with food coloring if the colors are super dark, unless you airbrush the color onto lighter icing. Even then, you will likely get some staining. Some people intensify their black with cocoa powder to get away with using less black food coloring, but I'm not sure they end up stain-free either. However, I do think the Wilton colors color less well than Chefmaster (what I use); I've always had to use SOOOO much more Wilton color to achieve comparable hues with Chefmaster.

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say.

Julia, have you ever used Chefmaster's Natural Colors?  If so, what are your thoughts about the results you've gotten.   Thank you!

I stopped using Wilton for several of the reasons stated already. I use Americolor exclusively now, although I may try out a few of the Progels when I run out of certain colors. I find that letting darker colors "develop" over night or even two days tends to help me get a deeper, richer color. I also save my darker colors to use for black. I find that I can add less black and get a deeper color with out bleed on the cookie if I use a leftover brown, blue, or black, etc. I only use icings that I haven't over mixed and are fairly new. I like to use a little Tulip Red and Super Red to get a good red color. The Navy I add a touch of Black to it or mix Royal Blue and Black. 

Suzie09 posted:
Julia M. Usher posted:

Hi, FancyBaker, Welcome to the site!! Yes, you posted in the right spot. I'm not sure you can avoid staining your tongue with food coloring if the colors are super dark, unless you airbrush the color onto lighter icing. Even then, you will likely get some staining. Some people intensify their black with cocoa powder to get away with using less black food coloring, but I'm not sure they end up stain-free either. However, I do think the Wilton colors color less well than Chefmaster (what I use); I've always had to use SOOOO much more Wilton color to achieve comparable hues with Chefmaster.

I'll be interested to hear what others have to say.

Julia, have you ever used Chefmaster's Natural Colors?  If so, what are your thoughts about the results you've gotten.   Thank you!

I haven't, though I have them sitting around here and have been meaning to try. By Chefmaster's admission, I understand them to color the way most natural food colorings do - not intensely.

MaddyDsSweets posted:

I stopped using Wilton for several of the reasons stated already. I use Americolor exclusively now, although I may try out a few of the Progels when I run out of certain colors. I find that letting darker colors "develop" over night or even two days tends to help me get a deeper, richer color. I also save my darker colors to use for black. I find that I can add less black and get a deeper color with out bleed on the cookie if I use a leftover brown, blue, or black, etc. I only use icings that I haven't over mixed and are fairly new. I like to use a little Tulip Red and Super Red to get a good red color. The Navy I add a touch of Black to it or mix Royal Blue and Black. 

That is great info, Maddy, thanks.

I really like turning older colors into newer colors -- something satisfying about the alchemy, somehow.

FancyBaker posted:

Julia --

Thanks so much for your response. I'm going to give a Chefmaster or two a try, see what I think. Somehow I'm less concerned with black, and all the usual problems it brings with it (since that's a perennial and there are more workarounds out there), than the purples and navys and hunter greens...

Do you find (if you feel like answering) you use the "recommended" amount of Chefmaster in cases when you are trying for a deep, dark color? Or do you overdo it a little?

Thanks again for you help/answer/this forum!

Liz

Does this include coloring with black? I use the wilton brand and it turns it grey. I'm looking for a quality way to get a good black tint.

Royally Sweet Sugar Cookies posted:

If I have 1/2 cup of glue consistency Royal icing it takes about 30 drops of Chefmaster Liqua-Gel Red Red to achieve what I would consider 'Red'. Does this sound right? I never expected I would have to use SO MANY drops. 

Not sure, as I never count drops anymore and each person's concept of "red" is different. But the Chefmaster reds are notorious for drying A LOT darker than they appear in the wet icing, so it may be you can get away with less.

Yes, they dry much darker and for this reason it's difficult for me to mix up colors. I guess over time it will become second nature but starting out it would be really useful to have a reference guide for mixing colors. I would love to make a color mixing guide with visual or video and I just might but I would be extremely suprised if there isn't one available already...  Has anyone ever seen or heard of a color mixing how to guide for Chefmaster Liqa-Gels? 

Royally Sweet Sugar Cookies posted:

Yes, they dry much darker and for this reason it's difficult for me to mix up colors. I guess over time it will become second nature but starting out it would be really useful to have a reference guide for mixing colors. I would love to make a color mixing guide with visual or video and I just might but I would be extremely suprised if there isn't one available already...  Has anyone ever seen or heard of a color mixing how to guide for Chefmaster Liqa-Gels? 

I don't know of one, but all I do, when in doubt about color, is add it gradually. I then smear a bit on a piece of white cardboard and then dehydrate it; in a few minutes, I have a pretty true sense of the dried color and then I make any adjustments. 

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