24 Karat Cuisines

In August 2011, the price of gold rose 26 percent. The contentious U.S. debt ceiling fight led many investors to believe that financial apocalypse was nigh, and when survivalist mode kicked in they bought their own personal stockpiles of gold.  

Fortunately, markets have begun to recover, and what could have been a potential 1929 turned out to be a mere Y2K. Economic uncertainty persists, however, and so interest in gold remains strong...particularly among foodies.  Not all forms of gold are edible — but the precious metal is frequently used in non-toxic powder or leaf form to give foods the appearance of elegance, luxury, and wealth.  Food containing gold suggests that the person consuming it is a high roller, so it's usually found in luxury items such as caviar, or in decadent desserts. It's also an ingredient that can be used in many recipes, and gives even an amateur cook the ability to whip up something unique.  What are some foods that contain gold?


Gold Leaf Saffron Risotto

Risotto is one of the most popular rice dishes in Italy. It's cooked in broth and has a sticky, creamy texture. One of the most common spices used in its flavoring is saffron, and this risotto forms the basis for a wide assortment of dishes. One such dish is gold leaf saffron risotto, made by Milanese chef Gualtiero Marchesi. Cooked in vegetable broth and served al dente, this light dish is garnished with edible gold leaves.


Dark Chocolate and Caramel Cake With Gold-Dusted Chestnuts

When it comes to rich desserts, a dark chocolate and caramel cake is an indulgence with few peers. The Condé Nast-owned Epicurious.com web site has upped the ante by featuring a recipe for the cake that includes gold-dusted chestnuts, making it truly decadent.  The cake is glazed in a "sumptuous chocolate-caramel ganache" and sweetened with chestnut cream and brandy syrup. The chef must devote two full days to making the dessert, as the ganache alone requires all of day one and must be kept overnight. The gold dust is optional, but if you're going to slave away in the kitchen for two days, you might as well go all the way. The gold dust can be ordered through L'Epicerie.


Ice Cream Sundae by Serendipity 3

Serendipity 3 is a legendary restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It's been popular for decades with city residents, and even more so with tourists, many of whom have crossed oceans to sample its fabled hot dogs and ice cream dishes. The restaurant entered the annals of effrontery when it offered the Golden Opulence sundae in 2004 for $1,000. Three years later, it introduced the Frozen Haute Chocolate, which cost $25,000 and made its predecessor look downright reasonable by comparison. Both were made with edible leaves of 24 karat gold.

One of the most popular decorations for dessert items is dragees. The sugar spheres, which often look like miniature ball bearings, appear on top of birthday cakes, often leading to confusion over whether or not they can be eaten. Wonder no more. The Food and Drug Administration has classified all metallic dragees as inedible. In Europe, however, it's a different story. No laws exist to regulate the consumption of these little nuggets, so dessert chefs can dot their creations with metallic spheres to their hearts' content, as in the case of the gold-glazed dragees pictured here.

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— Daniel Bukszpan

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