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Feb 06


Key to Your Heart {Cupcakes}

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How about a chocolate cupcake for Valentine’s Day?

The key to your Valentine’s heart in more than one way.  😉

These chocolatey cupcakes are topped with royal icing hearts and royal icing keys covered in gold leaf.

Yup.  Royal icing keys covered in gold leaf.

I’m not crazy… really. (Subjective I guess) 😉  The idea had been floating around in my head for quite some time… Preventing me from trying it; well, it’s an expensive experiment!

Granted, I have lots of gold leaf left over to try on new projects; I’m thinking jewellery cookies would be a fun idea.  Gold leaf and disco dust; cookie bling!  {On my to-do list for sure!}.

You might be wondering about the edibleness factor.

I did some research and found that it’s safe to eat.  The reason why dentists can use it for fillings, caps etc. is because metallic gold is biologically inert.  That’s also the reason why gold flecks have been approved for use in Goldschlager schnapps.

According to eHow:

Gold leaf does not contain harmful byproducts and, according to Edible Gold, has been certified safe at any level of consumption. While the Food and Drug Administration in the United States has not tested edible gold leaf, European equivalents of the FDA have certified it food-grade, and U.S. FDA representatives noted in 2005 that no one had asked them to make a recommendation on edible gold leaf.

Edible Gold states that gold leaf “will pass out of the body after about 24 hours unchanged without causing any harm or reaction on the body.” Most edible gold leaf products are 22- to 23-karat gold and contain no metal additives that the human body cannot process.

For more information on the properties, culinary uses etc., courtesy of eHow, click here.

Important to note; if you’d like to use gold-leaf on your edible decorations etc., you need to make sure that the product you’re buying has at least 22-24 gold carats.  The product is usually labelled; you just need to check.

For example, these gold flecks from McCall’s (an awesome source of baking supplies in Toronto), are labelled as non-toxic and only used for decoration due to the quality of the gold.  I managed to find 24 carat gold leaf at a local art supply store, Curry’s, where they were aware that it could be used for ‘edible art’.

The design for the hearts and keys came from Martha Stewart Crafts Key And Heart Paper. {Thank you Martha for your always beautiful & inspiring things!}   I used my KopyKake projector to help me make them, but they’re a fairly easy shape to do without help.  (I just can’t draw!)

Although it’s expensive, it might be fun to use gold leaf on cakes, cupcakes, cookies etc. for speical occassions and in small quantities.

If you’d like to try making these or other edible gold leaf decorations, here’s how to make them as well as a breakdown of cost and more info. at the end of the tutorial:


How to Put Gold Leaf on Royal Icing Decorations

Before I begin, I have to say that this was the first time I’ve ever used gold leaf, so I’d appreciate tips from those of you who’ve handled it before.  It’s extremely fragile… even breathing on it can easily move it the wrong way!  Beautiful stuff, but  finicky.

To Cover Sugar Decorations in Gold Leaf, you will need:

If you need a how-to on making the royal icing decorations, click here.


How to Cover Royal Icing Decorations in Gold Leaf


1. Once your royal icing decorations are dry, use the smaller paintbrush to gently brush on a very thin layer of piping jelly.

2. Use tweezers to carefully lift up a small corner of the gold leaf sheet. Once you’ve caught it, use your other hand to pick up the second corner and slide a small piece of the gold leaf onto your decoration.

You can cut the gold-leaf with the tip of a paring knife but you’ll find that it tears easily, so you’ll have small pieces in no time.  Lol. Also note that you can wear latex gloves to help prevent it from sticking to your fingers.

3. Use the larger paintbrush to gently pat the gold leaf onto the decoration.

4. Repeat to fill in remaining ‘gaps’ and use the paintbrush to pat down the edges.

5. Carefully place on cupcakes (or cakes etc.).

A few other notes:

  • I tried adhering the gold leaf just as is, but found it needed a little something to help it to ‘stick’ to the dry royal icing. By experimenting on the back of a larger R.I. ‘key’ (see image below), I found that water damaged the royal icing on contact, but piping jelly did the trick!

  • Instead of using gold leaf, you could use edible gold lustre spray on your royal icing decoration. I tried it to show you what it looks like:

Here’s a comparison on a cupcake:

  • Another option would be to add gold lustre powder on your decoration. -Just dip a dry paintbrush into the gold lustre dust and pat it onto the decoration. (I do this when I add pink lustre dust on cookies to create a rosy hue on cheeks).

  • Make extras of each royal icing decoration by the way. They break easily and this design was particularily fragile!

  • The ones I made varied from about 1 – 2.5 inches long

  • Cost of Gold Leaf:  24 sheets cost exactly $66.66 (Canadian), which means each sheet cost $2.78.  I ended up using 3 gold leaf sheets in total (experimentation included), so the gold leaf keys cost $8.33 in total.  Considering I only made 8 keys, that was about $1.00 per key.  Expensive if you’re trying to run a business, but great for special occasions (and if your customer pays for the cost!).  I’ve got lots of gold leaf left over now though!  Lol

It’s thanks to the lovley Melissa of MyCakeSchool.com that I’ve been on this cupcake kick!  Ever since I’ve been a member of her fantastic site I’ve been inspired by her videos.  She’s got decorating tips, assistance and over 100 videos to learn from.  Well worth only $30.00 per year!

You can find the chocolate cupcake & chocolate buttercream recipes I used {Two easy and seriously chocolatey-amazing recipes}, and learn how to swirl your icing onto a cupcake, at MyCakeSchool.com.

If you have any questions or comments, please drop me a line below and come join me on facebook here.

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  1. January 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Your photography is awesome! Because apparently I thought I could reach through my computer screen and grab one??
    They look delicious!!

  2. Angela Rotier (Blue Ruby Cakes)
    October 19, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Sweetopia you are the best. Thank you for sharing!

  3. October 29, 2012 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    they are good but all of them are chocolates , i needed some more pink , probably the next time

  4. October 30, 2012 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Making golden keys must have been hard , i guess the theme was golden with chocolate yummy 😀 !!

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