I learned this technique on how to color white cake decorating dragees in one of the cake decorating workshops I attended many years ago. And I must say, it’s a really cool technique as it allows me to create sugar dragees in any color or shades of colors I want for my cakes. This technique comes in really handy when you need dragees in a specific color but are unable to find the supply. Knowing how to color the dragees simply means you can keep stock of plain white dragees. These will be readily available to color and use whenever you need specific colored dragees.
What are Cake Decorating Dragees?
Cake decorating dragees are tiny small colorful balls (similar to sprinkles but round) that are sweet and crunchy to the bite. These dragees are often used for decorating cakes, cupcakes, and cookies alike. They are quite commonly found in gold and silver colors but are also available in an array of many other colors. And they come in many different sizes too. Some are as small as 2mm in diameter but most common ones are about 4mm in diameter. Sugar dragees can typically be purchased from any cake decorating supplies stores. If you are looking for online supply, can also buy them online here. Most of the time, these dragees are colored and therefore ready to be used. The white dragees are also ready to use as white dragees but since they are white, they can be used as the base for making your own colored sugar dragees.
How to Color Cake Decorating Dragees?
There are 2 methods in which you can color your sugar dragees. There could be more, but these are the 2 methods I have used and have worked well for me. The main difference between these 2 methods lies in the type of coloring ingredient used. In the first method, I use edible dust to color my sugar dragees. In the second method, I use gel food colors.
Lets look at each method and the supplies needed to color dragees:
Method 1 – Using edible dust
- White sugar dragees
- Ziplock bags
- edible dust in desired color (e.g., silver, gold, etc).
- Alcohol or lemon extract (Lemon extract is non-alcohol and suitable for those who do not use alcohol).
- Place your pearl dragees in a ziplock bag. Depending on the number of dragees you intend to color, add sufficient edible dust into the ziplock bag. Add a few drops of alcohol or lemon extract.
- Zip the bag and shake the sugar pearls until they are well coated with the edible dust. If the dust is not enough, add more. Similarly, if the dust appears too dry, add a bit more alcohol or lemon extract.
- Continue until the dragees have all been uniformly coated with the edible dust paste.
- Pour the dragees into a shallow plate or tray and spread them out, giving adequate time for the alcohol/lemon extract to dry out.
- Once dried, you can start using your colored sugar dragees.
Method 2 – Using gel food colors
- Place your sugar dragees into a ziplock bag. Depending on the amount of dragees you intend to color, add one or two drops of your chosen gel food color into the ziplock bag.
- Zip the bag and shake the sugar dragees until they are well coated. If the color is not enough, add slightly more. Shake the bag further until the dragees have all been uniformly colored.
- Pour the dragees into a shallow plate or tray and spread them out, giving adequate time for them to dry. Once dried, you can start using them.
- When coloring the dragees, always add the dust or coloring in small little increments. That way, you don’t risk adding too much color to your dragees and end up wasting the entire batch.
- Alcohol and lemon extract dry much faster compared to gel colors so if you are using gel food colors, you would need to give more time for your colored dragees to dry.
How to Use and Store Your Colored Cake Decorating Dragees
Unlike store-bought dragees, the color on these dragees tends to bleed when in contact with any form of liquid or buttercream. This means that you cannot mix them into buttercream or any other frosting. You can, however, sprinkle them onto these frostings without any problem.
When using these dragees, for simple sprinkling on frosted cakes or cupcakes, I would just do it with my hands. But when I want to attach them to fondant or gumpaste, especially in a particular pattern or neatly arranged order, I use my tweezers.
And to help hold these cake decorating dragees in place, I normally use the help of fondant glue but I would use the glue very sparingly as too much would cause the color on my dragees to bleed. To start with, I normally use the end of my cake decorating brush to form small dents on my fondant or gum paste where I want the dragees to be put. And then I apply very little glue into the hole (just a light touch with my brush) and then insert my dragees into those dents. The dent in itself helps to hold the dragees in place and so the glue is just an extra step to make sure the dragees are totally secured in place.
I have personally made and kept my own colored sugar dragees for close to 6 months but definitely within the expiry date on the dragees bottle (be sure to check the expiry date on your sugar dragees bottle and avoid using the dragees beyond the date stated).
Colored dragees can be stored in airtight containers or ziplock bags in cool and dry place. I keep mine in the refrigerator.
And that is how I color my cake decorating dragees. Hope you find this technique useful.