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October 02, 2011

Heirloom Pumpkin Sugar Cookies | Tips for Mixing Icing Colors

Instead of bright orange jack-o-lantern cookies, I decided to color my sugar cookies like the beautiful heirloom pumpkins that are all the rage these days.  If your icing tinting experience is limited to the squeeze tubes you find at the grocery store, it has probably resulted in bright, generic and almost electric looking colors.  

The trick to mixing great looking, muted, natural looking colors is adding the complimentary color... huh?  For instance, if you are making blue, I always add a little touch of orange.  It provides a neutral tone to the otherwise bright blue.  As a result, the color will look a little more sophisticated and natural.  Below, I've provided the step-by-step formula for each of the pumpkin colors.


While you can use grocery store food coloring, you'll have more options and better results with the paste colors found at specialty bakery supply stores.  They are more concentrated with more vivid color options - meaning you only use a small amount to avoid watering down your royal icing (which can cause bleeding).   Here is a set of Paste Food Coloring you'll need from Williams-Sonoma - set of 5 colors (all you should need) for $15.

Another one of Everyday Essentials that I use in my kitchen are Disposable Pastry Bags.  Of course, you can invest in very nice cloth pastry bags, which I did, then never cleaned out and were ruined.  I LOVE Disposable Pastry Bags.  I even use them without Pastry Tips - I just snip off a tiny bit of the end and go.  Here is a link to a set of 10 for $5 from Williams-Sonoma.

Mixing Royal Icing Colors :

Royal Icing is a simple mixture of egg whites and powdered sugar.   Here is the recipe!

Here is what it looks like when it is finished.
 I have all of my materials ready to go :

- Royal Icing divided into separate bowls for each color.  Make sure you keep an extra bowl of white to fix any mistakes.

- Paste Food Coloring

- Ice Cream Scoop (one of my Everyday Essentials) makes transferring the sticky icing into bowls and bags easier

Pale Buttery Pumpkin (light orange)

- 2 drops of Orange
- 1/2 drop of Green
- 1/2 drop of Yellow
 You can see how all of the colors start to come together...
...With the result looking exactly like the pumpkin!
 For the Deep Red-Orange Pumpkin :

- Add 2 drops of Red to the Pale Orange Color
 You can keep adding red until you've reached the right color.  If it gets too red, add a little green to make it more subtle.
 Blue - Green Heirloom Pumpkin :

- 1 drop of blue
- 1/2 drop of yellow
- 1/2 drop of orange
 Love this color.
 For the White Luminary Pumpkin :

- 1/2 drop of brown
 It makes the bright white a little softer - more natural looking, like the white luminary pumpkin.

 Don't they look great together?!

As you can see from the actual pumpkins in the photo, they are a great match!


  1. These cookies are beautiful, and thanks so much for the mixing tips! I've been wanting to decorate cookies for a while but am a little scared, but I think I will do some leaf-shaped cookies this fall and use these colors!

  2. Those are gorgeous! You never cease to amaze me with your talent.


  3. Simply delicious!
    I love them with those colors so sweet!

  4. thanks for the ideas...looks so much prettier than the typical orange pumpkin cookies i was planning on making!!!

  5. I just discovered from cookieria by margaret page, and your cookies are gorgeous, the orange and blue are beautiful! Here you have a sample that I have, to start school with good start! your a follower ... who loves your work! Gemma

  6. These are gorgeous - no other words, just gorgeous!!!


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