How to Make Chocolate Leaves

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

Chocolate leaves are easy cake decorations that add a touch of natural beauty to any dessert! Learn how to make edible chocolate leaves, plus tips on making marbled or swirled leaves, and decorating them with luster dust.

Variety of dark and milk chocolate leaves on a white plate.

🍂 Easy Chocolate Leaf Decorations

Chocolate leaves are one of my favorite ways to decorate fall desserts. They’re easy to make, beautiful, and (as the name suggests) you need just two basic supplies – chocolate (or candy coating) and leaves!

They can be left plain, or dressed up with a bit of marbling or a brush of luster dust. Stick one on a cupcake, or ring a whole cake with a wreath of chocolate leaves – however you use them, they’re a gorgeous decoration! And, if you enjoy making easy chocolate decorations, try my Chocolate Feathers tutorial.

Looking for some fall dessert inspiration? Pair your chocolate leaves with our Brown Sugar Cranberry Cake, Pumpkin Pound Cake, Festive Fall Layer Cake, or Pumpkin Chocolate Mousse Cake!

Cake with red to yellow ombre frosting and chocolate leaves in the border.

🧾 What You’ll Need

The ingredient & equipment may seem self-explanatory, but there are a few things you should know to get the best results! Here’s what you’ll need:

Supplies needed for chocolate leaves: chocolate in glass bowls and green leaves laid out on a wooden table.

Candy Coating (vs Chocolate)

Yes, I call these “chocolate leaves,” but in most cases I do recommend using candy coating instead. Here’s why:

Real chocolate (like chocolate bars, or many types of chocolate chips) cannot simply be melted and used for decorations. It needs to be “tempered,” which is a process of heating and cooling the chocolate to certain temperatures so it stays hard and shiny once set. (Read more about how to temper chocolate here.) If chocolate is not tempered, it will most likely be soft, dull, streaked, or even grayish. That tastes fine, but it’s not appetizing! Tempering solves this problem, but it adds a lot of time and effort.

Candy coating, on the other hand, is designed to be used for dipping and decorations. It sets hard and shiny without the need for tempering, and can be re-melted and re-used again and again. It comes in a variety of colors, and is typically either vanilla flavored or chocolate flavored. I recommend Merckens,  Ghirardelli, or Wilton brand.

There’s no doubt that real chocolate tastes better than candy coating, and for recipes where chocolate is the star, I would definitely recommend tempering real chocolate. But for chocolate leaves, which are most often used sparingly as a garnish on another dessert, I think candy coating is an easier, cheaper substitute, and that is why I recommend it in this tutorial.

Chocolate leaves brushed with luster dust around the edges, arranged on a chocolate cake.

Leaves

The two most important things to consider when choosing leaves are: 1) food safety, and 2) ease of use.

Food safety: Because these leaves will come into contact with food, it’s important that they don’t have traces of pesticides, preservatives, or other harmful chemicals sprayed on them. I recommend using leaves from a source you trust: either from a plant you grow yourself, or from a trusted friend or neighbor. Be sure to wash the leaves well and dry them thoroughly before using them.

Ease of use: The best leaves to use are sturdy and have a pronounced pattern of veins on the back. Citrus leaves, like lemon leaves, are some of my favorites. They’re easy to use and produce gorgeous chocolate leaves. Most other leaves will work, but some are more delicate and prone to tearing than others. It’s also nice to have a mix of shapes and sizes, so don’t hesitate to use several different kinds of leaves for your project.

Golden chocolate leaves arranged around the edges of a bundt cake.

Edible luster dust

Luster dust is optional, but really makes these leaves pop! “Luster dust” typically refers to a type of powdered coloring with a metallic sheen (hence the name). Not all luster dust is created equal, however. If you want your leaves to be edible (as opposed to simply decorative) make sure you use edible luster dust. My favorite edible luster dust comes from The Sugar Art. Some dusts are not intended for consumption and are labelled “non-toxic,” so make sure you purchase the right dust for your needs.

Food-safe paintbrush

You don’t have to buy a specific set of “food paintbrushes,” but you should use a clean brush that has not been used with real paint or other non-edible substances. I have a regular set of paintbrushes that I keep in the kitchen and use exclusively for food and decorating. Most craft stores sell individual brushes that you can pick up for a few dollars, or this affordable Wilton 5-piece set is specifically designed for decorating desserts.

📋 Instructions

How to Make Chocolate Leaves

Once you’ve gathered everything, making chocolate leaves is a fast process. Grab a printable version of these instructions in the recipe card below.

Stirring melted chocolate in a glass bowl.

Melt the candy coating

Place the candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring regularly, until melted and smooth.

Brushing the back of a leaf with melted chocolate.

Paint the leaves

Brush an even layer of melted coating on the underside of the leaf (the side with pronounced veins.) Make sure that the chocolate extends all the way to the edges, and that there are no translucent spots where the chocolate layer is thin. 

Setting a chocolate-covered leaf down on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Set the leaf on a parchment-covered baking sheet and repeat with remaining leaves.

Swirling milk and dark chocolate together.

To make marbled leaves:

If you want to make multicolored leaves, you will need at least one contrasting color of melted candy coating. Pour the different colors of candy coating onto a large plate, drizzling and swirling them together in random patterns.

Dragging a leaf through swirled chocolate and pulling it out of the chocolate.

Hold a leaf by the stem and drag the top of the leaf through the chocolate puddle, creating a marbled design. Check the leaf to make sure there are no transparent areas, then clean off the sides of the leaf for a smooth edge.

Peeling a green leaf off of a molded chocolate leaf.

 Place the tray of chocolate leaves in the refrigerator to set for. Once set, carefully peel the leaves from the chocolate.

Brushing luster dust on a chocolate leaf.

You can use them right away, or paint the leaves with edible luster dust to make them really pop!

Golden chocolate leaves arranged around the edges of a bundt cake.

💡 Tips and FAQs  

Close-up of yellow and red chocolate leaves in a buttercream cake border.

🍁 What to decorate with chocolate leaves

So you’ve made your leaves — now what? Use them as decorations on one of these desserts!

Pumpkin Pound Cake
This Pumpkin Pound Cake recipe is a moist, tender pumpkin bundt cake with a cinnamon swirl. Top it with a brown sugar glaze for maximum fall flavor!
Get the recipe!
Pumpkin Pound Cake with brown sugar glaze and chocolate leaves on top.
Chocolate Feathers
Chocolate Feathers are an easy way to add an elegant touch to any dessert! You can  place them on cakes, cupcakes, tarts, and much more. 
Get the recipe!
Cake with an assortment of blue and green chocolate feathers affixed to the side.

Don’t miss the step-by-step tutorial showing how to make Chocolate Leavescheck out the web story here!

Leave a review!

If you make this recipe, let us know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on the recipe below, and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram @elabau, or use #sugarhero on IG!

Variety of dark and milk chocolate leaves on a white plate.

Chocolate Leaves

5 from 5 votes
Chocolate leaves are an easy cake decoration that add a beautiful touch to any fall dessert. Learn how to make and decorate chocolate leaves for your next baking project.
You can use either real chocolate or candy coating to make these leaves. If you choose to use real chocolate, I recommend tempering the chocolate beforehand, so the leaves stay hard and shiny. Candy coating is a good substitute if you don't want to temper chocolate.
Prep Time 30 mins
Chilling Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Yield 24 leaves
Calories

Ingredients
 

  • 24 leaves, washed and patted dry
  • 8 ounces chocolate candy coating, or tempered chocolate
  • Edible luster dust, to decorate (optional)
CUSTOMIZE: 24 leaves

Instructions
 

  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper, and lay the washed and dried leaves on the baking sheet, vein side up.
  • Place the candy coating in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second increments, stirring regularly, until melted and smooth.

To make single color leaves:

  • Dip a food-safe paintbrush in the melted coating, and brush an even layer on the leaf (the side with pronounced veins.) Make sure that the chocolate extends all the way to the edges, and that there are no translucent spots where the chocolate layer is thin.
  • Replace the leaf, wet chocolate side up, on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining leaves and chocolate.

To make marbled leaves:

  • If you want to make swirled or multicolored leaves, you will need at least one contrasting color of melted candy coating. (Multiple colors can also be used.)
  • Pour the different colors of candy coating onto a large plate, drizzling them together in random patterns. I recommend having a larger proportion of lighter colors, since the motion of running the leaves through the chocolate will begin to mix the colors and the lighter colors will soon turn darker.
  • Hold a leaf by the stem and drag the top of the leaf through the chocolate puddle, creating a multicolored design. Check the leaf to make sure there are no transparent areas. Clean off the sides of the leaf for a smooth edge. Replace the leaf, wet chocolate side up, on the baking sheet and repeat with remaining leaves and chocolate.
  • Place the tray of chocolate leaves in the refrigerator to set for at least 15-20 minutes. Once set, carefully peel the leaves from the chocolate. Try not to handle the leaves too much to prevent your body heat from melting the chocolate.
  • Once the leaves have been removed, the chocolate leaves can be used immediately, or further decorated with edible luster dust.
  • Store chocolate leaves in an airtight container at cool room temperature. Separate layers with parchment or waxed paper so they don’t get scuffed during storage.

Video

MEASURING TIPS

Our recipes are developed using weight measurements, and we highly recommend using a kitchen scale for baking whenever possible. However, if you prefer to use cups, volume measurements are provided as well. PLEASE NOTE: the adage “8 oz = 1 cup” is NOT true when speaking about weight, so don’t be concerned if the measurements don’t fit this formula.

Click here to learn more about baking measurements and conversion.
Share on Facebook Share on Pinterest
Photo of Chocolate Leaves with text overlay for Pinterest.

About Elizabeth LaBau

I’m Elizabeth, but you can call me SugarHero! I’m a former pastry chef turned blogger, cookbook author, and baking instructor, and I consider myself sugar’s #1 fan. Learn more from my About page, or connect with me on social media:

What You'll Need
Editor's Note

This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which is an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  For more information, see my Disclaimer and Disclosure Policy.

Favorite Fall Desserts

Leave a Review

Your comment will be visible after approval. Your email address will not be published.

Rate This Recipe!




What type of comment do you have?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  • Amy wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote:
  • Nathan wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote:
  • Charles wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote:
  • Dionne wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote:
  • Mahy wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote:
  • Marilyn wrote:
    • Jill From SugarHero wrote: