Sure, making cakes and cookies with the little ones is fun, but there’s an upside to decorating without them—no more neon colors and better-looking confections. Black icings or fondants often decorate more sophisticated cookies and cakes. You can delicately pipe different textures onto surfaces or solid bases.

Everything from black-and-white cookies to an elegant tiered cake with black fondant and elegant gold leaf, these desserts add a level of prestige and artistry to any special occasion.

What You’ll Need

There are a few methods to achieve making black food coloring. Here’s how:

Ready-Made Food Coloring

Mix an equal amount of blue, green, and red food coloring in a bowl. Adjust the color by adding more of one hue.

  • Blue Food Coloring
  • Green Food Coloring
  • Red Food Coloring

Natural Food Coloring

Start with white icing and add natural ingredients to achieve the desired black shade.—This will not work for every recipe as some components influence taste and texture. Here are some ingredients that create black food coloring when added to recipes:

  • Squid Ink: Not appropriate for desserts because of its salty flavoring. Try this in doughs, kinds of pasta, or rice dishes. Add small quantities to not over-flavor your recipe with added salt.
  • Cocoa Powder: Use cocoa powder labeled as “black” or “ultra Dutch processed” for darker coloring in batters.
  • Activated Charcoal: Health responses to this ingredient may fluctuate, so consider the potential side effects before incorporating it into batters or dry ingredients.

How To Make Black Food Coloring

First, it’s important to note that making black food coloring requires many colors. Buttercream icing and fondant are initially white, and using food dyes to change all that to a true black takes a lot of dye. It’s also important to use food coloring gel or paste and not the food coloring liquid. The gel and paste are more concentrated in color and less likely to alter the consistency of your frosting or fondant than the liquid food coloring.

Mix one part of blue food coloring with two and a half parts of green food coloring and three parts of red food coloring. Add this to your frosting or fondant and incorporate it. This recipe is a good base formula that should create a color close to black, but the exact color will depend on the type of food coloring used and the proportions of frosting or fondant to food coloring. Look at the color once incorporated and adjust as needed. If the color is a murky grey, you will need to add more of the color mixture. If you notice one color coming through, add more of the other colors to balance.

Note: If you have time, consider buying black food coloring online. It is the most efficient way to lend true black to buttercream, icing, or fondant.


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