How to Make Mauve Icing, and Toning Down Icing Colors

Making mauve buttercream or royal icing is easy if you start with pink then tone it down.

Since mauve is kind of a pastel version of pink, you can usually get a good pastel color if you do it that way.  It’s an easy-to-use method to produce a muted color

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Start with a base color that’s not too bright.

I’ve seen people start with mauve or burgundy gel color and add a tiny bit at a time, but that will sometimes give you a browner or pinker version of the color than you want.

Starting with a lavender pink color, you can mute it by toning it down with the complementary color of food coloring. If the pink is too bright to begin with, it will be harder to get the perfect shade.

This method also works when you just need to tone down something that came out a little too bright.

I was making a cake that had a mauvey-pink frosting piped on it, but when I went to prepare the icing, the mauve food coloring made it too pink.

mauve icing

I could have added a little blue or purple to take it more into the mauve direction, but I didn’t want it to be too purple. 

So I decided to tone it down by adding the opposite color to make it go a little in the grey direction, which is the undertone that pastels have.

mauve icing

How to make a pastel color.

When you add colors that oppose each other on the color wheel (that would be complementary colors) you create a grey/browned down pastel version of the original colors. 

I added a couple of drops of spring green to the pink icing to grey it down, and it was enough to give it a pastel feeling as opposed to being so pink.

mauve icing

The one on the left was the original, and the one on the right is the greyed- down version. 

The difference is subtle, but it will make a big difference on the cake.

how to color correct buttercream icing

The complementary colors for mixing icing are: red–green, yellow–purple, and blue–orange. 

Adding those colors will give you a toned-down version of whichever you have more of. 

For another article about using complementary colors to make grey fondant, click here.

Just add the complementary color bit by bit and go slow. 

You can always make it darker, but you can’t make it lighter. 

Too much of both colors will give you a grey mess!

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