Seeing as everything else this time of year is all glistening and sparkly—the ornaments on the tree, the lights lining the homes outside, the party outfits—why shouldn’t what’s coming out of your kitchen be equally blinged out? Your go-to tool for this task is clear: edible gold.
For the uninitiated, let’s go through the FAQs real quick. Yes, edible gold is actually made out of real gold, and yes, you can really eat it. (Gold is a non-digestible metal, so it simply passes through our digestive system when consumed.) That being said, seeing as you’re going to literally be putting it into your body, this is not time to mess with the cheap, low-karat stuff that still contains some impurities. Quality leaf in the 20 to 24-karat range is what you’re looking for, and can easily be found in specialty cooking and baking shops (as well as online, obviously, like just about anything else you could possibly want).
As far as form and function are concerned, the popular dessert decoration is most commonly available as either pre-fab flakes or in sheet leaf format. The latter is ideal for larger projects requiring a lot of coverage (aka cakes), or, generally speaking, anytime you want more control over the shape and size of the gold design. Just remember you’ll need a paintbrush handy for application purposes, as well as all the patience you can muster. Expect ripping, wrinkling, general unruliness, and likely unavoidability of settling on a “rustic” free-form look. And whatever you do, avoid directly touching the stuff as much as possible for obvious reasons.
Now, if you’re still up for the challenge, go for the gold with these inspired gold leaf-decorated recipes.
Chocolate, Earl Grey, and Raspberry Macarons
Didn’t think the classic French macaron could get any more precious? Take a look at this gold leaf-flecked rendition filled with raspberry compote and Earl Grey ganache. (Or, you could take the semi-homemade, shortcut route—no judgement—and head-to-toe trim the ones you bought from the boutique bakery in the glitzy gold stuff.) Get the recipe.
24-Karat Saffron Poached Pears
Spiced wine-poached pears are lovely; a classic, even. But vanilla-saffron syrup poached pears drizzled with chocolate sauce and garnished with gold leaf? That’s the stuff of epic dinner party legend. Get the recipe.
Gilded Chocolate Truffles
If you’ve ever made chocolate truffles before, you know that the best thing about them (aside from getting to gobble them up with abandon, of course) is how easy they are to make compared to how impressive they look and taste. Still, if you want to up the ante for this year’s holiday party, consider making this variation that is not only gilded with gold leaf but also spiked with a decadent South African cream liqueur. Get the recipe.
Chocolate Truffle Tart
That being said, if you prefer your your gold-bedazzled chocolate truffle in full plated dessert format, there’s always this elegant tart to fall back on. And you can thank the pre-made tart shell for keeping this decadent, glittering looker low-maintenance. Get the recipe.
Gold Leaf Marshmallows
Those mini marshmallows you can buy at the store are cute, but if you really want to crush the holiday season, you’ll whip up a batch of these gold-flecked mallows to accompany your hot cocoa. Get the recipe.
Saffron Risotto with Gold Leaf
Leave it to the Milanese to turn the volume on the way up on a simple, classic rice dish. The signature creation of Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi, the opulent entree goes for gold on gold by garnishing saffron risotto with a sheet of gold leaf. Get the recipe.
Champagne Jello Shots
Well, would you look at that: The Jell-O shot has gone and graduated from the college party scene.
Inspired by the flavors of a French 75 cocktail, this version of the the frat house favorite keeps it extra classy with a dusted gold leaf garnish. But don’t let the makeover fool you, these sparkly shots will get you into just as much trouble as they used to back in the day. Get the recipe.
The Golden Ladder
The stiff, frothy cap of this bourbon-and-fig egg white cocktail is the perfect vessel for a dazzling gold leaf dust garnish. Get the recipe.
Header image courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes.