I've been fiddling about with edible silver this Christmas. It's bloody tricky stuff! I'm very much an amateur, put off practicing by the price of the silver. But it's so beautiful, it gleams like no lustre dust or paint, and creates a lovely surface to pipe onto.
Whilst I've been keeping it simple for most of my Christmas cookies, with a round moon over which to pipe and paint a leaping hare, for this year's gingerbread collaboration, The Ginger Tree, organised by Beth Bougie of Love Bugs Cakes and Cookies, I got it into my head to gild a moon with raised features. It was awkward. I just made the one, and I filmed it for you. It's heavily edited as there was a lot of fiddling, and patching up required, and ended up looking a little 'cracked', an effect I rather liked, for a four and a half billion year old face.
I picked up a little information along the way, which I shall record here, and might come back to edit if I become at all competent in the future.
Always make sure to buy edible silver leaf. The craft stuff won't necessarily be pure silver, it may be mixed with inedible elements, and it won't have been produced in a food safe environment. Apparently there are 'fakes' on the market - or at least, they're not edible, sold as on a 'base' which might be something like aluminium. Nothing wrong with this unless they're selling it as edible.
The leaf comes loose between fine tissue sheets, usually in a little booklet. In this case, you have to manhandle the leaf out of the booklet and onto the cookie. This is a nightmare. I bought two sheets from Sainsbury's, and the first thing that happened as I was pulling out the booklet from its cardboard wallet, was one of the sheets whizzed out, broke up and fizzled away. This stuff is so thin it's pretty much non existent!
The other way to buy it is on transfer sheets. It's attached to the sheet of tissue somehow, so that you can carry and position it easily, then as the leaf adheres to your sticky surface, the tissue (mostly) lifts away leaving the leaf behind. This is the stuff I've been using.
It'll stick to just about anything, either through static (like to my metal tweezers, my brush, my fingers, the dry biscuit, my desk...) or through a damp sticky surface. I've only tried using it on edible glue, though I imagine just using water to wet the sugar surface would probably work too. For this reason, I found it very difficult to neatly cover just one element on the cookie: it stuck to the cookie surface too, so I gilded the moons and then iced around them once it was dry.
When you first attach it, if the surface is wet enough, it'll slide around and mush up/pull off quite easily. So if you need to patch areas, pop little patches of leaf, but don't try and brush away the edges or work on it too much, or you'll ruin the whole thing. But once it's dried thoroughly, it's a really good strong surface - you can brush it to remove any little floaty bits, and polish it up with a finger or brush. It's lovely to trace an outline onto with a scribe tool. And my, how it gleams!
And most importantly - it doesn't affect the taste or texture of the cookie. It's so fine, that you cannot feel it at all when you bite into the cookie, and there's no flavour. So here's the video - I have to apologise for not showing the formation of the face in icing properly, but my battery ran out!