It all started with a little Christmas in October. I ordered these amazing cordless mini airbrushes for my classes and my shop from TruColor. Bill called me to specify my order and mentioned me sending the new liquid colors for testing. You know how much I love colors! So new colors for testing is always fun. right?
A few days later, I opened my box like a kid at Christmas Day. And this is what I found, a beautiful set of vibrant colors, that I feel good about giving to my kids:
This picture shows their full set of 12 colors. The first thing that caught me eye was the sets of twins: two yellows, two oranges and two greens. I asked Bill about the reason of having the twins and if they were different in royal icing. The reason of having them is the fact, that the main ingredient of the regular colors, turmeric is oil soluble. To make a liquid color with it, requires an emulsifier (Polysorbate 80), which is totally harmless, still, it's not derived from plants, so doesn't really fit TruColor philosophy. And the way they act in royal icing is actually my job to figure out. It makes sense, so let's get to it!
I decided to test all the colors the same way, so we can compare them. I started with 50 gram (about 2 oz) very basic meringue powder royal icing (just CK meringue powder, sugar and water). I added 1 drop of color for the first test shade. Then I kept adding increasing amounts to the existing shade to get more saturated colors. (2-3-4 and 8 extra drops) Let's see what we got.
As I was dying to see the difference between the turmeric based and the beta carotene based colors, this is where I started.
At the picture below, the top row is the beta carotene based beta orange color and the bottom row is the turmeric based orange color. They are both pretty strong pigments. The first difference is in consistency. Beta orange is a lot thicker substance. It doesn't seem to alter the icing consistency too much. The turmeric based orange is much thinner and it did thin out the icing considerable. It also changed the appearance of royal icing. It got a little translucid and lost its strength. It would be hard to decorate with this icing. TruColor's explanation is the turmeric's oil-based nature. We know, oil has a negative effect on royal icing, and it's totally visible with this color.
While both colors look beautiful, for royal icing, I definitely recommend the Beta orange.
The yellow test (picture below), as predictable, came up with the same results. Both yellows have nice, strong pigments. The beta yellow with the beta carotene (top row) is a little darker, more like "egg yellow" or "sunset" yellow color. It doesn't have big effect on consistency, while the turmeric based yellow makes the icing very thin.
My last set of twins: the greens. As you probably guessed, the regular green is the top row. It is a more vivid green. The coloring itself is very thin, but it dilutes the icing a little less than the regular yellow. However, the negative effects on royal icing are still strong, so my choice is definitely the beta green. It's more like an avocado green color, but to be honest, I use this shade way more than leaf green anyways. The color beta green has a thick, grainy consistency so my drops were bigger, but I also needed a little more coloring to achieve the darker shades.
Next in line is sky blue (top row) and royal blue (bottom row). Both beautiful colors. They dilute the icing just a tiny bit (like any gel or liquid color would do), with no negative effects. With this test amount of coloring, they didn't get too dark, but they were getting darker with time (just like most food colors do).
With so many natural pink and purple pigments available, these two colors are not a real challenge. They performed well, as expected.
Let's see the real challenge colors: red and black. This red radish based red color is very vivid and it won't turn purple in royal icing as many natural red colors would do. Unfortunately, this gorgeous bright red color comes with a price: red radish has a strong distinct tart taste. So I would definitely use this color in moderation. As red radish is also an ingredient of orange, the taste of the orange is also affected. I really hope, that Red Annatto will come back one day, as it's the best natural red I have ever seen.
The black is not as strong as the other colors. So I broke my rule, and I doubled the color quantity I added to the icing. Even with the double quantity, I just achieved a dark gray. However, this gray was a pleasant surprise. Black food colors are a mix of many different colors and they tend to produce purple or green shades instead of gray. TruColor black liquid color produced the nicest, cleanest gray icing I've ever mixed.
I also kept adding color, to see if it gets black, and it does. we just need more coloring to achieve it and more confectioners sugar to adjust the icing consistency after we did.
Here, you can see all the colors, a couple of hours after mixing.
Mixing the colors
We know that natural colors are special, but we shouldn't be afraid of mixing them. In the paint palette below, I mixed some random colors, using beta yellow, red, pink, sky blue and black colors.
On top of each color I added small dots of the colors I used to achieve the mixed color.
Painting with the colors
You can also use these colors to paint on your cookies. This is a big cookie, flooded with royal icing and I painted the colors on it. I simply used water to dilute the colors.
For those of you, who need to be careful with your ingredients, I will put the ingredient list for each color here (from the label):
Yellow: Turmeric Extract, Citric Acid, Water, Cultured Corn Glucose, Polysorbate 80
Beta Yellow: Beta Carotene, Citric Acid, Water, Cultured Corn Glucose
Orange: Turmeric Extract, Red Radish, Citric Acid, Water, Cultured Corn Glucose, Polysorbate 80
Beta Yellow: Beta Carotene, Red Radish, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Water, Cultured Corn Glucose
Green: Water, Spirulina Extract, Turmeric Extract, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Cultured Corn Glucose, Polysorbate 80
Beta Green: Water, Beta Carotene, Spirulina Extract, Cultured Corn Glucose
Sky Blue: Water, Spirulina Extract, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Cultured Corn Glucose
Royal Blue: Water, Spirulina Extract, Beet Color Extract, Dextrin, Citric Acid, Cultured Corn Glucose
Pink: Water, Beet Color Extract, Maltodextrin, Citric Acid, Cultured Corn Glucose
Regal Purple: Water, Beet Color Extract, Spirulina Extract, Citric Acid, Cultured Corn Glucose
Red: Red Radish Color, Water, Cultured Corn Glucose
Black: Water, Caramel Color, Red Cabbage, Maltodextrin, Cultured Corn Glucose
Finally, the best thing about testing colors is, that I end up with a gorgeous set of icing I can play with:
Go to my website to see more of my work.