Vegetable coloring pastes, which are entirely harmless, can be obtained for twenty-five cents a bottle. The green and the red, or carmine, are the colors generally used for icings, creams and jellies. The orange is used for orange-cake icing and candies. Very little should be used, as the colors should be delicate. To guard against using too much it is well to dilute it with a little water and add only a few drops at a time to the mixture.
The various shades of red to pink are obtained by using more or less carmine.
Fruit juices impart both color and flavor. They should be filtered (see page 415) before using, or they give a muddy color.
To decorate cold sweet dishes, use fancy cakes, icings, fruits either fresh, candied, compote or glace; jellies or blanc-mange molded, or made into a layer and then cut into fancy shapes. Spun sugar (see page 515) makes a fine decoration, and can be formed into nests, wreaths, balls, or simply spread irregularly over a dish.
The candied California fruits are very useful and beautiful for both cold and hot desserts. They cost sixty to eighty cents a pound, and are not expensive, as but little is used at a time, and they keep indefinitely in closed jars. Cherries are used whole, the other fruits are cut into pieces.
Angelica is also very effective for decoration. A piece costing twenty cents will go a long way. It is cut into thin strips and then into diamond-shaped or triangular pieces, and used to simulate leaves. The combination of cherries and angelica is especially pretty.
A mold sprinkled with currants makes a good garnish for hot or cold puddings.
Almonds, pistachio nuts, filberts, English walnuts and chestnuts are employed in many ways, as see receipts.
Fresh flowers and green leaves may be used with good effect on many cold dishes. Pink roses lend themselves particularly to this purpose. Violets, pan-sies, geraniums, sweet-peas and others are often appropriate. Nasturtiums with salad are good for both decoration and flavor. (See opposite pages 328,410,492).
Colored sugars and small candies called "hundreds and thousands" are used to sprinkle over icings, meringues, creams and whips. To color sugar sift coarse granulated sugar, spread the coarse grains on stiff paper, and drop on it a few drops of coloring fluid. Roll it under the hand until evenly tinted, then leave to dry on the paper. Keep in corked bottles.
Sauces for cold sweet dishes are custards, whipped cream, canned or preserved fruit, fresh fruit juices, or purees. The purees are crushed fruit sweetened to taste (with syrup at 30° if convenient). They are improved with a little flavoring of Maraschino, kirsch, Curasao, or with orange or lemon juice. Peach is improved in appearance if slightly colored with carmine.