Halloween isn’t just about cute costumes and trick-or-treating. Aside from free candy, this nerve-racking holiday is also the perfect time to get into the kitchen to make homemade treats that are delicious and terrifyingly decorated.Our Favorite – and Easiest — The way to do this is to dye various baked goods a deep black. If you’re interested in coloring your Halloween cookies, cakes, and more this October truly black, we’ve got a few things to keep in mind. Read on to find out how to impress all your little ghouls and goblins this Halloween.
One of the most accessible and easiest products for dyeing food black is food dye. There are several brands, including Wilton and McCormick, that produce black food coloring in liquid and gel consistency. Black food gel allows you to get true black faster than liquid food coloring (just a few drops!). Both products are available at bakery/craft stores and online. If you can’t find black, you can also mix equal parts red, blue and green food dyes – the result is a deep black tone. Use black food dye to color the royal icing and icing, like the one used for the cute face on this Easy Ghost cake (see photo above).
Squid ink is a great option if you’re looking for a less processed, naturally occurring food to dye your food black. Squid ink (or cephalopod ink) is a dark blue back ink that is stored in the squid’s ink sac and released to deter predators, it can be extracted and used to dye various foods black. Squid ink is a great choice for savory dishes such as Antonia Lofaso’s Black Squid Ink Tempura Fish and Chips and Anne Burrell’s Squid Ink Risotto (pictured above), as it’s very salty and rich in umami, not unlike Seafood goes perfectly with pasta. This might not be the best option for vegetarians since it comes from sea creatures, but it might be a good option for meat eaters. You can buy squid ink from fish markets and specialty grocery stores in small refrigerated containers for easy storage.
Dark cocoa powder is a Dutch-processed cocoa powder that is highly alkalized, producing a rich black color that gives many baked goods a true deep black color. Like other Dutch-processed cocoa powders, this one has a very bitter taste and no added sugar, so be sure to add other sweeteners to your baked goods to balance the flavor. You can buy black cocoa at various bakeries and online. If you need some recipes to get you started, try these dark cocoa cake doughnuts (see top of article) or this dark chocolate cake (pictured above) for this year’s Halloween festivities.
This jet-black seed grows in pods in tropical climates around the world. It’s similar to its beige sesame counterpart, but has a different flavor – it’s more fragrant and bitter. This makes it a favorite of chefs around the world, especially in Asia where it is mostly produced. This incredibly versatile ingredient is often used in Korean and Japanese meat marinades. Can be seen slathered on a roll of sushi and sprinkled on your bagel or salad dressing. But its most popular use is in slightly sweet desserts throughout Asia. In Japan, black sesame, or kurogama, is used to flavor and color its famous soft ice cream, similar to this black sesame ice cream from Food Network Kitchen (pictured above). It’s also used to spread and flavor mochi, a sticky rice cake that pops up in the dessert aisles of U.S. supermarkets. For those with a sweet tooth, you can use black sesame powder to dye a neutral color like cupcake batter, frosting, or meringue. For easier use in your own kitchen, just crush the sesame seeds and sprinkle them over ice cream for perfectly toasty and bitters.
You’ve probably seen cocktails, smoothies and juice bars made with activated charcoal – making beautiful black drinks. However, consuming large amounts may not be the best option, as it can negatively respond to certain medications. There’s even some evidence that it can cause digestive problems. Activated carbon is charcoal made in the presence of gas, which provides charcoal pores that can trap chemicals. Charcoal can be made from wood, peat, and usually coconut shells. All in all, it’s hard to tell exactly what your body will do with charcoal, so it’s best to eat less to avoid adverse effects. Let’s leave this product behind and opt for one of the other safer options mentioned above!