How do you use food coloring pens?
Those of you who have been here before may already know this, but I have a thing for drawing on food with edible writers, also known as food coloring pens. Particularly marshmallows. See? HERE are a billion ideas for drawing on food. I came up with this idea for marshmallow art in 2009 in the midst of a housing search when our belongings were in storage, we were living in temporary housing, and then we went through a kitchen renovation. Marshmallow art is so quick, easy, kid-friendly, versatile and oven-free, so it was perfect for our transient life at the time.
Edible markers, gourmet writers, food writers, food coloring pens… the many different terms are just as confusing as the many different brands. This post is all about food coloring pens: what brands to buy, where to buy them and what you can do with them. Food writers are markers that have edible ink, NOT to be confused with “candy writers” that you find in the craft store. Those come in tubes. I don’t use those. So they are essentially markers for food.
brands of food coloring pens in order of my preference
Americolor Gourmet Writers, set of ten. These are my favorite writers. They have good flow and are easy to use. You can get finer detail by using the tips and cover thicker areas by using the sides more. If you only buy one set of writers, buy these. You can buy Americolor Gourmet Writers on amazon.com and many other online sites.
FooDoodler. My next most-used writers are the FooDoodler Fine Line set of ten. The fine line is even finer than the Americolor Gourmet Writers and I use this a lot for very fine detail. FooDoodler also carry thicker food markers, which are good, but I rarely use those, only because I draw such small things. If you don’t need a super-fine line, then they work well. The perfect combination of markers–if you buy two sets–are the Americolor Gourmet Writers with the FooDoodler fine line set. Learn more about FooDoodlers on their site.
FoodWriters. Wilton, the masters of food craft, of course sell food writers. They are good writers and have a good flow, but the tips are a bit thick for the detail I like to draw. However, the pros: they are widely available in most major craft stores, they come in a variety including lime green (yay), and they are great for kids. When my 3-year old decorates marshmallows, I give her the FoodWriters. You can buy them on the Wilton site, in craft stores. Amazon has some FoodWriters here or this set if FoodWriters with the lime green missing from Americolor and Foodoodler. The sets are smaller, so you end up needing to buy a couple different sets. I’m partial to the “neon” colors.
KopyKake pens. The set of KopyKake pens are also OK. They have two ends, one thick and one fine, which is great. The fine end gives the same detail as the fine line FooDoodlers. The other big bonus? The set has two greens, including a lime green. I use lime green a lot, and I miss this with the other sets above. The down side to these? I feel like the flow is a little dry and they run out of ink more quickly. Much more quickly.Find KopyKake pens at amazon.
how to draw on food with food coloring pens
- fondant (roll out and cover cookies, cupcakes or cakes with fondant, or, if you make dimensional designs, use writers for the details)
- royal icing that has been flooded and left to dry overnight
These sweets are LESS or NOT compatible with edible writers:
- candy melts (You can use edible writers with stuff that’s been dipped in candy melts and hardened, but the writers do react with the fats in the melts and don’t work quite as well. If you’ve tried to make cake pops, you may have experienced this. I suggest markers with a good flow, like the Americolor’s, use the tips and use them sparingly for small details, like dots for eyes.)
- buttercream frosting. Frosting won’t fully harden, and the bumps and grooves make this a bad surface for writers.
TIPS on using food coloring pens:
- Let your surface dry well before using the writers. Marshmallows and fondant will stiffen if left out for an hour or so. And flooded royal icing MUST dry overnight.
- Don’t try and layer colors, unless it’s for effect (like the spring flower marshmallows above). The bottom color will show through. Only black witll cover other colors, so I often outline with black last.
- When switching colors, let the first color set about ten minutes so you don’t accidentally pick up another color with your marker and to prevent bleeding.