How to make shiny edible gems

How to make shiny edible gems

Making edible bling for your cake or cupcakes sounds like a fun idea until you start! The first try usually goes something like this: Melt sugar, burn self, sugar turns yellow, gets crystals, gets cloudy, looks crappy. Get frustrated. Give up.

Not anymore! Sugar artists have been using isomalt for ages now because it works so well in any environment. Melt it down and it stays nice and clear! Get those shiny gems you have always wanted on your cakes!

Isomalt is actually a sugar substitute. It is used in sugar free foods and is gluten-free. It can however, cause upset stomach if you eat too much, kinda like when you eat too many apples. You know what I’m saying here right?

How much should you eat? Well the recommended amount is no more than 1.7 oz at a time so if you are using isomalt as a decoration that your guests might get one or two gems to eat and you’re not just snacking on your edible bling, then you’re good to go.

I attach my jewels with a dab of corn syrup and a clean brush

This is the cake I made with the pink gems. They were for an emerald themed wedding cake display. The lovely flowers where done by the talented people at Swoon Floral Design here in Portland

Ok time to make Gems!
Here is my video on how to make isomalt gems using a piping bag.

Written Instructions

One Cup Isomalt (click the link to buy or check with your local cake store)
non-stick pot
parchment paper
oven mits to protect your hands
candy making mold (buy here or your local cake store)
latex gloves to handle finished gems so you don’t get fingerprints
Gel based food color if you plan on coloring your jewels
Large bowl of ice water
Vegetable oil spray for the molds

How to prepare the isomalt

Place a large bowl of ice water nearby just in case you burn yourself. Dunk your hand or wherever into the bowl to stop the burning immediately. 

Add  water to Isomalt in the non-stick pot and stir until it is evenly distributed and resembles wet sand (about 1/1 ratio) Note: I do not add water to my isomalt in the video because it isn’t absolutely necessary but as a beginner, it is easier to add the water.

Place pot of Isomalt on burner set to HIGH and let come to a boil

Place candy thermometer in pot to keep an eye on temp

The mixture will bubble for a while and get stuck at 225 while the water is boiling out. It cannot raise in temperature until all the water is gone. Once the water is gone, the temp will begin to rise and you will notice not as much active bubbling.

Once all the water is gone, now is a good time to put in your color if you are coloring. The mixture will go crazy with bubbles as the newly added liquid evaporates, once all the liquid is gone, it will calm down again. Use a long wooden skewer to stir color throughout if not consistent.

Target cooking temperature is 338 degrees F. Remove pot from heat when thermometer reads 333 degrees F. allowing five degrees to compensate for the continuing rise in temperature as a result of carry over heat within the mixture itself.

Place bottom of pot in the bowl of ice water just until the hissing sounds stops and return pot to burner set in the off position or rest pot on a folded side towel to cool

Isomalt pours best at about 300 degrees so set your oven to 275 and place your pot in the oven for 15 minutes. This allows the isomalt to get to the proper pouring stage while allowing bubbles to leave the solution.

While your isomalt is chilling out, fold your parchment triangles as shown in the video, prep your cup and molds. Some people spray their molds with a little oil to let the gems release easier.

Remember to always wear your oven mits or burn proof gloves while working with isomalt. It may look cool but its 300 degrees of burning molten lava in a pot so take all the necessary precautions.

Pour the cooled isomalt into your prepared parchment bag using the cup to hold the bag for you. Dont hold the bag with your hand, you could burn yourself! Add about a half cup to the bag and put the pot back in the oven for holding. Quickly snip off the tip of the parchment bag and start piping into the molds.

Let cool 5-10 minutes. They will start to pull away from the mold once they are totally cool and should just fall right out

Store isomalt in air tight containers at room temperature for up to two years.

A little video on the colored isomalt gems

Another cake I made with the ombre purple gems. They were attached over an edible silver leaf wedding cake. I attached them with a little corn syrup.

  • R Alison

    Hi – please can you tell me why my gems come out cloudy and not shiny and smooth?
    I am using a silicon mold, the tops of the gems that aren’t touching any of the mold look shiny and smooth but the part of the gem that sits in the mold is cloudy and not very smooth. I have cleaned the molds really really well repeatedly to ensure that there is nothing in the mold at all (they were brand new molds when I first tried using them this weekend.
    Many Thanks!

  • Machelle Wilchesky

    Hi- is there a mold that you used for the big brooch in the middle tier of the navy blue cake featured on both the top and bottom of this page? Thanks :)

  • Miranda Legg

    @artisancakes:disqus I’m going to try making these for a wedding cake I’m making in a few weeks. The bride does not like fondant, and wants cream cheese icing. Do you think it’s possible to do the quilted patters not on fondant?

    • Elizabeth Marek

      Yes you can. Make american buttercream that is crusting. There are tutorials out there on how to do it. Use cream cheese flavoring.

  • Kelly Keith

    Elizabeth, you are so very talented. Thank you for sharing for the rest of us. I love your Ombre Indian inspired Turquoise and gold cake on Pinterest. You have a similar design with the pink jeweled cake on the Emerald green lace. Would you please please share how you made the gold lace on the Indian themed cake? Is it royal icing piped on and then you covered with edible gold dust? I wonder how you kept the gold so neatly on the design and not on the fondant.

    I also thought maybe you used edible lace which I am playing with and covered that in edible gold dust. If so, I wonder what lace mold you used. To achieve the darker color turquoise on the bottom of the fondant tiers, did you brush with a luster dust? Thank you so much for helping!

    • Elizabeth Marek

      Hey Kelly, I wish there was an easy answer but they are both hand piped. The key to gold looking lace is to make the royal a mustard brown color so that you only have to paint the tops of the royal gold and it blends with the royal and no white shows through. I airbrushed the turquoise cake to make it darker. Hope that helps!

      • Kelly Keith

        Genius! Yes, it sure does.Thank you for what you do.

  • Saima Beg

    First of all, Thank you for such an amazing tutorial. It’s amazing how you are spreading your talent :)
    Quick question, every time I pour the isomalt into the parchment and try to pipe it out onto the molds, it gets stuck inside and forces me to cut the tip big (not too big but big enough for me to not able to make small gems). The temperature of my isomalt while pouring is 300 degrees. What can I be doing wrong?
    Thanks in advance :)

  • Molly Johnson Lovescoffee

    I am thinking about doing these for my wedding cake! Thank you for the amazing tutorial!

  • Guest

    Awesome, how many cakes have you made using isomalt gems.

  • Bonnie Otillio

    I always think you rock, and then you do something like this and you rock some more! Love the trick of putting the pot in the oven to hold it at temp instead of rushing or losing product!


    • artisancakes

      haha Thanks Bonnie!! You ROCK for leaving me a comment <3