When you think of food coloring, we bet your mind goes to the little squeeze bottles of primary-colored liquid that come from the supermarket. Yeah, that’s what we used when we were first learning how to bake, and they served us well. When Dédé started getting into wedding cakes and large celebration cakes and wanted to expand artistically, she discovered powdered food coloring, and her life was never the same. No, really, we are serious. Just look at the picture, look at the variety, the subtlety – so far from red, blue and yellow! It’s like getting that new box of 64 Crayola crayons and just staring at the colors brings on possibilities you may have never thought of before.
Powdered colors can be roughly broken down into a few “finishes,” sort of the equivalent of matte, satin, eggshell and what-have-you when you buy paint. In other words, there might be a certain shade of green, but then you also have your choice of effect. The main ones are petal (matte), luster (a bit of shimmer), pearl (pearly), sparkle (sparkly) and true silver and gold colors. They are all extremely versatile, can be used wet or dry and will truly open up your eyes to a world of color and decoration. (Note that different companies might use different names for the finishes, but the important thing is for you to know that you have choices.)
When used dry, the powdered food coloring can be brushed onto baked cookies, meringues, fondant, gum paste, modeling chocolate and so much more. They can be turned into “paint” with a few drops of alcohol; we like to use vodka, but you could use almond extract. In the center of the image at the top of this article you can see a gold and a teal color turned into a “wet paint.” Whatever you use to dissolve the powder should be clear so as not to taint the colors themselves. The colors in the picture, by the way, are in an artists’ palette, which is convenient when you have many colors. The image below shows a close-up of wet gold “paint” used on ganache.
Powdered colors are very shelf-stable – we have never had one go bad, even after several years – so you can stock up a few at a time and have a nice array at your disposal. Check out the selection at Beryls. There is an actual Beryl who will answer the phone and answer any questions you might have. Tell her what you are working on and she will have loads of ideas.