When testing out cake pop recipes, I love the idea of making cake pops of every color and design, but often I am left with candy coating colors that I’ve used before, and I have one of the tiniest kitchens known to man (or woman) so I just don’t have the space to store a whole loads of different colors. Plus I have found that the colored melts tend to be more expensive and/or come in smaller packets than the white or cream ones, so if I could color my existing melts, that could save me some money too…. Definitely worth investigating!
So I decided to check out one of the products available to color the cream or white candy coating that I always had, to make my own colors as needed.
I had heard that regular frosting colors wont work on candy coating, as they are water-based and not gel or oil-based, which is what you need for the candy coating… so I did some research and I found the wilton candy coloring sets…
As I discovered the hard way, the lids on the little jars you get are very fiddly. It is very easy to assume that they just click on, but please remember that you need to screw them tightly as well to fasten them properly. Also when you store them, be very careful to keep them upright, not at an angle, even in their box. I promise you that you do not want drama of leaky candy colorings! (My fingers are currently stained pink)
I melted the white candy coating I had (30 second bursts in the microwave) and then put a bit in each of my little Wilton Mini Ceramic Candy Melting Settop.
I got a lollipop stick and dipped the end of it into the coloring. I then used the same stick (now with a decent sized blob of coloring on the end) to mix the melted coating. As these products are marketed as “colorings” and not “edible inks” or “candy paints”, I expected that you wouldn’t need to use a lot to get the relevant color, especially for such a small amount of candy coating (I know Wilton tell you to use quite a lot of the coloring (see the link at the bottom of the page) but that’s for a much larger amount of coating). If the color that came through was pretty weak, I added more just to check that the color was as deep or bright as it would get.
I also tried a little of some gel-based frosting coloring that I had to check out what I’d heard about needing oil-based colors. As you can see, the results of my experiment varied massively!
Water-based Gel coloring:
The gel took a while to take and once thoroughly mixed, the color was somewhat speckled. Admittedly, the speckles were tiny and the color came thorough quite well overall. I’m sure it would look fine from a distance, but it’s not as smooth as the oil-based colors close up. So if you’ve got no other options, if your cake pops are sprinkled or if you’re focused on yumminess, I think you could still use gel-based colorings and be pretty happy.
Purple: I’ve put this first as I like to be positive. This color was gorgeous! It only needed a tiny bit to produce a deep, rich color. Definitely my favorite! 5/5
Black: I put in tons of the coloring and still came out with a medium grey color. I was really disappointed in this one. If you want all black cake pops (like for Bakerella’s black cats) you need to buy the black candy coating I’m afraid, or use a black pen/gel writer for black detail. The color did darken a little after it dried, but I’d still only use this for grey. 2/5
Green: Lovely pastel color of green. Not that dark though – so you need to use quite a bit for Christmas trees and the like. 3/5
Pink: Like the purple, only a tiny bit yielded a deep, bright color. Beautiful bubblegum tone with minimal work! 5/5
Wilton Primary Candy Color Set:
Red: The major disappointment of them all. Again I added extra coloring several times and only got a pastel-like red or dusty pink. Nowhere near good enough. 1/5
Blue: A nice pastel baby blue but quite close to teal really, so not suitable if you’re after a deeper royal blue color. 3/5
Yellow: Pleasant summer yellow. Again a pastel shade rather than golden. 4/5
Orange: Not what I expected. Came out like a peachy coral not your carrot orange. Still a really lovely color, just not suitable for deeper orange characters. 3.5/5
These sets are nice for pastel colors but only the purple and pink have proper oomph! The colors do get deeper the more you add, but it gets to the stage where it is totally counter-productive to have to use a whole jar to color a few candy melts if you want stronger colors. Instead of spending the time and money going to your cake supply store to get more jars of coloring, you might as well have bought the pre-colored melts to begin with.
I will keep these and use them for bespoke, softer colors, but for stronger, deeper colors (except purple and pink) I’ll used the pre-colored melts.
Keep in mind that in order to dip a cake pop fully, you need to be able to submerge it, so you might need to color a fair amount of coating. You can store the left over colored candy coating once you’re finished though and use it another time.
Just a quick note on the ceramic melting cups. I quite like these, but they are definitely best kept for when you want to paint candy coating on to a pre-dipped pop, not for dipping the pop itself. I have tried dipping into one of these little pots, and although the pop fits in the cup (just), it creates a huge mess from overspill and you end up wasting a whole load of candy coating. Plus the ball of cake is more likely to fall off the stick from the suction when you try to take it out.
I haven’t used photos to show you each of the actual colors because some colors look odd in the pictures (the purple in the picture above is nowhere near as blue as it looks in the photo for example) or on a computer screen, but I do want to give you an accurate representation of what the colors came out as so I’ve tried to find the fancy html color codes from this website. Just go to the link plug in the numbers below to find an approximate color match…
Here is the list:
Finally, I have also found this link from Wilton that describes how these colored candy melts can be mixed to make other colors. I’m pretty unimpressed with the amount of coloring they tell you to use to be honest. Why have such tiny jars if they tell you use half! I haven’t tried these colors out yet but I will and will get back to you! I also want to try these coloring a Wilton melts as well, just to make sure that there isn’t something about the Merckens melts that wasn’t suitable. I’ll let you know.