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Food Colors are available in several forms, including liquid, paste, powder, sprays and pens. Liquids and pastes can give a more intense color and are more suitable for coloring larger amounts of icing. Powdered colors will give a more delicate finish to a decoration.
Paste and Liquid Colors are very intense and it is advisable to add color a little at a time from the end of a cocktail stick to achieve the desired shade. The amount of color required may vary with different food. A wide range of colors are available and colors can be blended to create an individual color. When coloring icing with paste or liquid it is better to mix it in before applying the icing to the cake as this achieves a more even consistency.
Paste colors are the most popular form of coloring as pastes provide the strongest color. Pastes are ideal for adding to royal icing, rolled fondant icing, petal paste, glacé icing, butter icing, marzipan and white chocolate. The color may change as it dries so it should be mixed into the food at least 15 minutes before reviewing the finished color. To achieve a true color with some dark colors, such as black and Christmas red it is best to paint them on. When using pastes as paint it is important to dilute the paste with a little water, otherwise the high glycerine content in the paste will hinder the drying process and the colors may run. .
Liquid colors can be added to fondant icing, royal icing, glace icing, butter icing and marzipan. The depth of color increases as more liquid is added; be aware that this could change the consistency of the food.
Tinting or dusting powder are mainly used as a dust for adding color to flowers and frills. Color is added by painting or dusting the powder onto molded or cut-out decorations, or directly on to the cake surface. Powder can be used to color icing and white chocolate; the intensity is not as strong as with pastes or liquid colorings. To create a lighter color powders can be mixed with corn flour, water, or a clear spirit (such as gin or vodka) for painting. Lustre colors, such as gold or silver, should not be blended into icing or petal paste as the colors will be lost.
Color mist sprays are brightly colored, easy to use and taste-free. Sprays can be used to add color to plain iced cakes, to spray over stencils or brighten party desserts. Simply shake the can and spray.
Color edible marker pens are used to write and draw directly on to hard royal icing, fondant icing or marzipan. Use in the same way as a felt tip pen and replace the cap firmly after use to prevent the pen from drying out.