For years, I’ve been seeing my Instagram caker friends post photos of metallic gold buttercream cakes. Like, really shiny ones. After doing a bit of research into how to get the look, I decided to order the Rolkem Super Gold luster dust and try my hand at it. I’ve seen a lot of cake makers use that mixed with a little vodka to paint their buttercream cakes for a flawless metallic look. Here’s the thing though, while I was absolutely blown away by the shiny gold finish, I realized that there has been a recall on Rolkem Super Gold because (the batch I ordered at least) contains high levels of copper, which is not the healthiest for consumption. It’s FDA approved in some countries, but not the USA, so I wondered if after swooning over this amazing gold finish I could actually find a comparable option that is FDA approved worldwide.
This wonderment sent me on a quest to find the best product for a perfect metallic buttercream finish: one that’s as shiny as Super Gold, as easy to paint with (aka I wouldn’t have to paint a million coats), and of course, one that is universally FDA approved for eating. After scouring the internet and reading countless reviews, I ordered three to try: King’s Gold by CK Products, Gold Pearl Dust by Wilton, and Glamorous Gold by Edible Art Paint. I made a little video to show you how they look in action:
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Important Tips For Painting On Buttercream
Whether you’re painting a metallic finish or a non-metallic finish, it’s important to start with the right consistency of whatever you’re painting with, the right brush for the job, and a solid cake finish. All three of these things can make or break the final outcome. Here are my best tips for success:
First, to avoid messing up your final coat of buttercream, you must start with a well-chilled cake. After applying my final coat of buttercream, I place the cake in the refrigerator for a good 30 minutes or more, until the finish is hard to the touch.
Second, you need a good brush that won’t leave a ton of bristles in your paint job. This brush by Innovative Sugarworks is a great one, made specifically for cake decorating so you can rest assured that the bristles are made from high quality synthetic fibers and are safe for use with food. Your local craft store might have good brushes, but make sure they’re made with the right bristle fiber because a lot of paint brushes are made with animal hair. After all, the last thing you want is horse hair ending up on your cake!
And finally, you’ll need the right consistency of edible paint to get the look you’re going for and the best mixing solution to help the finish dry quickly. When working with luster dusts, you’ll need an alcohol solution to mix with so the liquid evaporates after you paint with it. Some cakers prefer vodka, but I always use grain alcohol to mix luster dusts with.
Grain alcohol can be found at your local liquor store (it’s also known as Everclear), and at 180 proof it has the highest alcohol content of any alcohol. The higher the alcohol content, the faster it will evaporate from your cake and leave you with that shiny gold finish you’re pining for. If you only have vodka or lemon extract on hand, those will work as well, they’ll just take longer to dry.
The Best FDA Approved Products For A Metallic Buttercream Finish
To my amazement, I ended up really liking all three of the products I tried for metallic finishes. There was one that stood out above the rest (read all about it below!) for color and ease of use, but all three will work depending on the color you need. Be sure to watch this video to see them all in action.
Glamorous Gold By Edible Art Paint
Spoiler alert: this one was my absolute favorite of the three products I used. It comes in a bottle pre-mixed with the right amount of alcohol solution, so you don’t even have to worry about making that extra trip to the liquor store. Edible Art Paints come in all sorts of colors, metallic and non-metallic, and the Glamorous Gold was the perfect shimmery gold color I was after.
The finish dried in about ten minutes and I found that one coat was sufficient for applying to the cake. I was worried about it looking streaky, but after the first coat dried, it ended up looking really uniform.
King’s Gold by CK Products
The King’s Gold by CK Products is a luster dust, so you will need to mix it with a solution like everclear (or vodka!) to make it paintable. After mixing it with everclear, the luster dust dissolved really well and ended up being a breeze to paint with. Here’s how it looked after one coat:
My reasoning for the lower rating is mainly because of the color and the semi-streakiness. King’s Gold was a bit vibrant for my liking, but they do make some other metallics that I would be interested in trying (there’s a Shiny Gold that looks a bit more like the color I was after). After painting a second coat, the streaks are diminished.
Gold Pearl Dust by Wilton
The best thing about Gold Pearl Dust by Wilton is that it’s more commonly found at your local craft store. It’s a luster dust that you’ll need to mix with an alcohol solution to make it paintable, but I found that the dust didn’t dissolve as well as other luster dusts I’ve used, making it a little more grainy of a finish.
The color was also more of a champagne gold, and to my knowledge it’s the only gold metallic color option available from Wilton. If that’s the color you’re going for though, I’d totally recommend trying it. The finish ended up being shiny after two coats, although still a little streaky.
If you’re looking for the best metallic buttercream finish that’s FDA approved and edible, I would definitely recommend any of these three, my favorite being Edible Art Paint. Remember that any time you paint on buttercream, make sure you start with a well-chilled cake that’s firm to the touch. Let me know if you end up trying any of these recommendations in the comments below, or if you know of other FDA approved solutions that work well!