Gold-frosted chocolate leaves dress up holiday desserts

In India, ethereal wisps of real gold and silver have decorated desserts since ancient times. Impossibly thin flecks of gold float in every glass of the German liqueur Goldwasser. And a few chocolate makers here in the West brush streaks of gold dust onto elegant confections. Although the FDA has not approved gold or silver as a food, nontoxic forms are available in a few specialty food, cookware, and baking supply shops. And you can order edible “lustre dust” in metallic colors from Sur La Table’s catalog service; (800) 243-0852. (The dust costs $3.95 for 0.7 oz.; it goes a long way.)

Gold and silver don’t make any flavor impression. But a gold-frosted leaf can turn a simple scoop of ice cream into an event. For even more drama, arrange a cluster of the leaves over a satin-smooth chocolate-frosted cake.

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  1. Select firm, nontoxic leaves such as camellia or citrus. Rinse and wipe dry. With a small brush, paint back sides of leaves almost but not quite to edges with melted semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. Let stand until chocolate is firm, about 1 hour; or chill about 15 minutes.
  2. Starting at the tip, peel leaf quickly away from chocolate. Don’t touch more than necessary; hands melt chocolate.
  3. Put 1 teaspoon clear liquor such as gin or vodka (or use lemon juice) in a small bowl. Carefully open the nontoxic gold (or silver) lustre dust and measure about 1/4 teaspoon into the liquor. Mix with the tip of a small watercolor paintbrush. Paint the gold mixture onto the firm chocolate leaves. Let leaves stand until gold is dry, about 10 minutes. Use, or chill airtight up to 1 month. If you have paint left, let mixture dry completely. Cover airtight and keep at room temperature indefinitely, then revive with a little more liquor when you’re ready to use it again.

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