Go Deep! How to Make Dark-Colored Frostings That Actually Taste Good

Actions

When your frosting #goals include deep, dark color — maroon red, say, or jewel-toned purple — you're going to need a few tricks to get the results you want. Because if you mess up, you might end up with a dull tone, a runny or sticky frosting or an icky food-coloring aftertaste. Read on to learn our secrets.

1. Start With the Right Kind of Food Coloring

In our experience, gel or paste food coloring is better than the liquid type.

Liquid food coloring has more water in it than the other kinds, which can affect the consistency of your frosting or fondant. Use too much and you might end up with something that's sloppy and unstable or sticky and unusable.

In terms of color, we generally recommend avoiding natural brands, as the ones we've tested left us with a dull, greenish or brownish tone.

2. Keep Your Flavors on Point

When you want a dark-hued frosting, start with a chocolate buttercream (as long as you're OK with the chocolate flavor, of course). That way you can use less food coloring and are less likely to get any aftertaste.

Secondly, always use high-quality natural extracts and essences to flavor your frosting. (Check out these great ideas for all the ways you can can add unique flavors to your frostings .) Avoid anything labeled "flavoring" — these are more likely to be imitation. For vanilla, a concentrated vanilla bean paste should be your default. You don't want to go overboard, but a more intense flavor will make your frosting taste better no matter how much coloring is in it!

3. Be Patient

The secret to really deepening your color: plastic wrap and a little time.

After mixing your buttercream or frosting, simply cover the bowl with plastic wrap, making sure it's airtight. Then set it aside for 30 minutes to an hour or two. Colors tend to deepen a bit over time.

4. Become a Mix Master

You may think that just adding one food coloring to your chocolate buttercream is plenty, but you can create richer, more complex colors if you're willing to mix together a few.

As an example, let's say you want to make red buttercream. Start by mixing red food coloring into chocolate buttercream and letting the frosting hang out in a bowl for a while, as above. Then create the exact shade of red you want by mixing in another color. Remember to use just a little at a time, stirring it in well before adding more.

Cherry Red

Add bright pink.

Maroon

Add dark brown.

Burgundy

Add purple.

5. Become Your Own Fixer

When you over-dye your frosting, you have a few options for correcting it, depending on how far you've gone.

If your buttercream is almost black and tastes a little odd, then our advice is to start again and take it a little easier on the colors! It pays to be cautious.

If your frosting is a few shades darker than you hoped, add untinted buttercream (the same you used for the base) one tablespoon at a time. Mix it in well and check the color, adding a little more if need be. But move slowly: Use too much and your frosting might become too light.

With deep-colored frosting in your toolkit, you're ready to venture into the dark side to create a Gothic wedding cake.

Next for you
Did you know a basic Swiss meringue buttercream recipe is actually a bowl filled with endless (creamy) possibilities? It's true! Here's all you need to know to transform your favorite frosting into... eight favorite frostings!
Bluprint
Game of Thrones fans, rejoice! The show's much-anticipated eighth (and final!) season is upon us. Need a distraction to fill the seemingly endless hours until the premiere? Here's an idea: make a cake. If you're not sure where to start, this collection of incredible Game of Thrones treats will get you going.
Jessie Oleson Moore
If you've decorated a cake before, chances are you know at least one of the big three buttercreams: American, Swiss meringue and Italian meringue. But you might not know the differences between these types, or that there are SO many more you can try.
Bluprint
It’s time to start that project you’ve been dreaming about. Watch classes, learn from the experts, and get creative.
Now Reading
Go Deep! How to Make Dark-Colored Frostings That Actually Taste Good