Luster dust is a nontoxic, tasteless, edible powder that can be used to decorate cakes, cookies, candies or anything else to which you would like to add a little sparkle. It comes in a myriad of shimmery colors and when applied, produces a high-sheen metallic finish. It can be used dry or wet, and can be used alone or mixed with similar matte-finish colored powders to produce a more intense sheen.
Prepare the luster dust. In a small bowl, tap out a little luster dust. Add 1 to 2 drops of vodka and lemon or clear vanilla extract and mix well to create a paint. You must use an alcohol-based liquid. Luster dust is not water-soluble and will not fuse with water. If you plan to use dry luster dust, no preparation is required.
Paint it on. Luster dust is ideal for adding shimmery color to cakes, cupcakes, petit fours or cookies made with fondant, royal icing or other frostings that dry hard to the touch. Dip a small pastry brush into a luster dust/liquid solution and paint on color and designs.
Incorporate luster dust into butter cream frosting. The surface of butter cream is too soft to paint, but that doesn't mean that you can't make it shimmer. Add 1 tbsp. of luster dust to your frosting and mix well to evenly distribute the luster dust. Continue to add luster dust and mix well until you have achieved the desired effect. You can also knead luster dust into fondant or whip it into royal icing.
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Make your homemade chocolates sparkle. Using a large, fluffy brush, dust dry luster dust over white, milk or dark chocolates. For more detailed work, use a small brush or a cotton swab to apply dry luster dust, or use a small brush to apply the luster dust/liquid solution. For best results, wait until your candies are completely dry and are at room temperature before decorating with luster dust.
Create intricate designs with a stencil. Dust your work surface with cornstarch. Using a rolling pin, roll out your fondant 1/8 to 1/2 inches thick (thickness is up to your discretion). Press a stencil firmly into the fondant. Paint your luster dust/liquid solution over the stencil, being careful to fill in every cut-out. When the luster dust has dried, peel up the stencil. Use your beautifully designed fondant to cover your cake, or cut the fondant with cookie cutters and top your homemade cookies or petit fours.
Airbrush it. Fill the well of your airbrush with the luster dust/liquid solution and airbrush color or designs onto your baked goods. Depending on your skill level, use the luster dust to paint your goodies solid colors, to make free-form designs or to create your own pictures or scenery. Or, for more guided designing, place a stencil or cookie cutters on top of your confection and airbrush color into them.
You can purchase luster dust at your local craft store, at candy-making or baking supply stores or on the Internet.
Test your airbrush color on a white paper plate before aiming it at your baked goods.
For best results, use an airbrush specifically designed for cake design.
Be patient with yourself. Using these techniques takes time, experimentation and practice.
Clean your airbrush well and immediately after airbrushing luster dust or it may become clogged.
Yvette Sajem has been a professional writer since 1995. Her work includes greeting cards and two children's books. A lifelong animal advocate, she is active in animal rescue and transport, and is particularly partial to senior and special needs animals.