The first step to coloring your confections is to choose the base, either icing or frosting. Is there a difference? The answer is debatable, as these terms are often used interchangeably. But usually frosting is fluffy and holds its swirly shape when spread, and icing is thinner and a bit glossier. You can also color a glaze, which is thinner yet and slightly translucent. For frosting, you can tint buttercream, cream cheese, and white frostings. For recipes, see below.
How to Make Decorating Icing
Stir in enough milk (about 3 to 5 tablespoons) to make the icing piping consistency or other desired consistency.
How to Make Royal Icing
This icing is easy to color and pipe, plus it sets up firmly when dry. It is used for decorating gingerbread cookies and for piping decorations and writing onto any kind of cookie or cake.
Tip: Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized dried egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. Look for it in the baking aisle of your supermarket or at a specialty food store.
How to Color Frosting
There are two ways to add color to icing or frosting.
Paste or gel food coloring: These highly concentrated food colorings are available in a many colors and shades. Look for them at hobby stores and specialty cooking stores. A little goes a long way when using these types of food coloring, so start with just a speck. To use, twirl a toothpick into the coloring and then into the icing or frosting and mix well. If desired, add more color a little at a time.
Liquid food coloring: Readily available at most grocery stores, liquid food colorings generally come in four color options: red, yellow, green, and blue. To use, stir drops of food coloring into the icing or frosting until you achieve the desired shade. You can also mix colors to get the color or shade you want.