I've experimented a bit with gold, silver and bronze on my cookies. I've read my cookie books, my favorite blogs, asked the ladies at my local cake store but have never felt like I've mastered it.
So this called for some research and side by side comparisons... my favorite. :)
I did this experimenting while making these gold pirate coins for my son's recent pirate party
and I'm ready to share my conclusions with you!
These are the brands I used for my experiments:
I started all of these with a white base of frosting. You can also start with a base color similar to the metallic you're going for. I could've done a yellowish base layer and it definitely would've changed the end color result. For silver, you can start with a gray base, for bronze, a light brownish orange...
Lustre Sprays- These are so much fun! I've tried Wilton, Duff, PME and Americolor brands. For this side by side, I used the wilton brand. I first tried PME luster sprays when my friend Callye showed me them. I tried the PME brand in pearl, (not gold) and loved it! Unfortunately it isn't available to me locally and I didn't have time to order it before this little gold experiment. These sprays give you a similar effect to airbrushing and if you haven't invested in that fancy machine will do the trick.
Pros: Sprays are a great way to get even color. Airbrush machines are expensive and this is the next best thing for those of us that haven't made that investment. This is also the fastest way of coloring several cookies at a time, even with multiple coats.
Cons: They can get a bit finicky. The spray tips can get clogged and they spit unexpectedly, leaving a little puddle. Shaking the can as you go can help, but doesn't guarantee smoothness. They also go on thin (light) so you will probably want to do a few layers, especially with metallics. Also, these can be pricey! The wilton one was around $5.00 and the Americolor one was almost $10.00. AND they don't go very far. Especially when doing multiple layers. I got about 20 small coin cookies out of the wilton bottle and 21 jersey cookies out of the expensive Americolor Spray (it had almost double the ounces in it).
Tips for using sprays: Pipe your frosting all the way to the edge. Everything on the surface of the cookie will get the color and if you have a few mm of plain cookie showing it looks like a mess up. Also, don't underestimate the overspray, it travels far. The best way I've found to do this, is to get a big box, with large walls and spray them in there. One little paper towel underneath isn't going to protect your table.
These were some gold soccer jersey cookies that I did with the Americolor brand color spray. It was expensive, but I was very happy with the overall look of them. If I painted these, I'm sure I would have seen brush strokes on this flat surface. The pirate coins were more forgiving for the next products.
Wet Luster Dust- Luster Dust comes in many brands and some have a slightly different titles, (platinum dust, pearl dust, shimmer dust), but they are all basically dusting powders. The difference can be the size of the powder granules. Petal dust is similar, but has a matte finish. Some of these dusts are not FDA approved so use at your own risk, or just use for decoration.
To transform this powder into a paint, mix it with a few drops of vodka (the alcohol will evaporate away) or lemon extract. Stir it, then paint it on.
Pros: Depending on how much you dilute it, it can give an intense metallic look.
Cons: Painting can give an uneven look and the powder can clump up a little when going over bumpy cookies like this one. It can also be time consuming to paint carefully. It can also get pricey. One little container of luster dust is usually $4-5.00 and will cover about 20 small cookies like this. Depending on how much you dilute it.
Tip when using wet Luster Dust: After you've used all you need, don't throw it out. Let it sit while the alcohol dries out the scrape the powder back into your container. It's as good as new to recycle and use again!
Dry Lustre Dust- My explanation above stands the same here. However, this time you aren't mixing it with anything. You can just dip your paintbrush in the powder and go to town!
Pros- You don't have to be as careful with this technique and it is more forgiving. Also, using dry luster dust covers more cookies than wet luster dust.
Cons- This adds only subtle color and shine. It is the least vibrant of all the options I tried.
Tip when using dry Luster Dust: I think it is smarter to use a colored base layer for this method. If I had started with a yellow-gold frosting, the dry dust would just add a subtle shine and the main color would shine through the most.
Painted Airbrush Color- Ideally, you would be using this in an airbrush machine. But I'm not that fancy yet. However, my cake store lady once suggested I buy the airbrush color to paint on. It is similar to painting with wet luster dust but you don't have to mix it. Also, you don't need to worry about ratios when mixing your second batch, like with luster dust. It is always the same for you.
Pros: Easy to use but a does take some time. Doesn't clump like wet luster dust. This was probably the most cost effective. A little bottle was $2.00 and can cover more cookies than the other products. This is a great option if you are painting a small area, or thin line of gold detail.
Cons: It went on very unevenly. It was okay on these pirate coins because they can just look weathered and aged. But using this to cover a large flat surface, did not look good.
So here is the side by side comparison. The color spray in this picture was only 2 coats in comparison to the soccer jersey's above where I used 4 light coats to get a nice gold color.
Which option is my favorite? Well, for this project I opted for the color spray because of time. It was my fastest option to do many cookies when I had other things to do for the party. Also, I think the thin layer tasted the best. If I was going on just looks, I would have picked the wet Luster Dust. If I was doing a small area on a cookie, I think painted airbrush color would be my easiest option. If I wanted the most subtle metallic look, I would go with dry Luster Dust.
In the future, I think it will be easier to decide which method to use. It will greatly depend on the size of the cookie, my time constraints and the availability of these products.
So that's it for my nerdy cookie experiment. I'm documenting for my own future reference and hoping it will help you too! It's not everyday we need a metallic cookie, but when we do, we'll know just what to do. :)