By Dan Bukszpan, CNBC.com
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?
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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.
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. The chef calls it "a dish of great elegance."
Dark Chocolate-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 website 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.
The Goldie is a version of the Hostess Twinkie made by organic chef Sarah Magid. Her recipeinvolves only five ingredients--cocoa powder, batter, butter cream, chocolate ganache, and gold metallic powder.
Goldies are baked in éclair pans, which are specialty items that generally need to be purchased at specialty bakery supply shops. After this task is completed, the dessert requires less than an afternoon to prepare.
Bagel by Frank Tujague
For a brief and glorious moment in 2007, guests at the Westin New York hotel in Times Square were presented with a unique opportunity. For a mere $1,000 , they could nosh on the world's most expensive bagel.
The bagel was the creation of chef Frank Tujague, and all proceeds went to charity. Its high price was the result of the various luxury foods with which it was gilded, such as goji berry jelly, white truffle cream cheese, and edible gold leaves.
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By Dan Bukszpan, CNBC.com
SUPPER CLUB PICK
My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an