I was brought up with one option if you wanted a cake or icing a different colour, liquid colourings. These worked fine if you wanted a pastel colour but if you needed a really vivid red or (the worst ever) black icing, forget it. You had to put so much it to get the desired colour that you ended up with a horrible aftertaste. And, using half a bottle wasn’t very cost effective either.
This is what you will find in most supermarkets, cheap and in a variety of colours. As I said above, perfect for a pastel colour, put a couple of drops in and you are done. As the liquid colours are water based they can ‘thin out’ a recipe which can cause problems.
These are available in small pots or squeezable tubes and are more concentrated than the liquid colours. This means you use very little to get a more vivid colour so it won’t affect the recipe or taste.
These are jars of dry powder, so are perfect when additional liquids may cause a problem with your recipe. They can be used to add colour to fondant icing and are also used to add colour to cake toppers. Being dry these have a very long shelf life.
Edible Food Pens:
Useful for personalising cakes with a hand written message or for adding details to cake toppings, eye’s are so easy with these.
You can now buy professional chocolate colouring which comes in the form of coloured coco butter that you mix into warmed chocolate. Most people making things at home would choose chocolate colourings in bright pure powder pigments. These are mainly used to colour white chocolate. You can also colour white candy melts with these which tend to be used when making cake pops.
I’m only scratching the surface here as there are so many options available these days. I will add links to recipes that have used colourings as we make them.