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What is Edible Gold Leaf?

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Champagne Truffles

Champagne Truffles with edible gold leaf

(c) 2012 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Definition: Edible gold leaf is a gold product that can be used to decorate food. In candy-making it can be used to cover whole candies like chocolates or truffles, or applied sparingly as a small decorative touch.

Is Gold Leaf Really Edible?

In most cases, yes. Gold is considered "biologically inert," meaning it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed. When selecting gold leaf, make sure to get gold that is as pure as possible--this means 22-24 carats. Gold leaf with a smaller carat value has more impurities and is less safe to eat. If you are careful and buy gold leaf that is clearly labeled as "edible" and has 22-24 carats, eating gold leaf is harmless.

How is Gold Leaf Sold?

Gold leaf is typically sold either in sheets or as flakes. The flakes are easiest if you want to sprinkle the tops of candies with a gold glimmer, and they are also frequently used for adding floating gold flecks to alcoholic drinks. The sheets are more delicate and can be tricky to use, but they are best if you want to cover a larger surface area with gold.

Where Can I Buy Gold Leaf?

Gold leaf is readily available online, from specialty gold distributors, auction sites, and even amazon.com. Specialty cake and candy decorating stores often carry gold leaf or gold flakes. If you are looking for the sheets, you might also find them at an art supply store, where they are used in art or craft projects. Just be sure that if you find it at a non-cooking source, you are truly buying edible-quality gold leaf.

How Do I Apply Edible Gold Leaf?

See this tutorial showing how to use edible gold leaf. For a recipe using edible gold leaf, see this recipe for Champagne Truffles.

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