Paper is commonly made from plant material — so why not food plants? Every plant’s cells are surrounded by a tough, fibrous material called cellulose. When chopped up and soaked, the tiny fibers connect with each other, bonded by an intermolecular pull called the van der Waalsʼ forces.
Those photos you see on birthday cakes are printed on wafer paper made from vegetable starch. In China rice paper is used for edible candy wrappers, and in Vietnam a different rice paper is used to wrap spring rolls.
You can use edible paper to create place cards for fancy dinners, takeout boxes to hold sweets — or for secret messages. (Devour after reading!) Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Vietnamese-style rice paper.
Whisk rice flour, potato starch, salt, and cold water together. It should be about the same thickness as white glue.
Stretch plastic wrap across the plate, tight like a drum. Pour the mixture onto the plastic wrap. Tilt the plate to spread the mixture into a circle at least 7″ across.
Microwave on high for 45 seconds. The paper puffs up as the water steams. Use oven mitts to turn the plate upside down on the wax paper. Remove the plate, then carefully peel the plastic wrap away. Your edible paper will curl as it cools. Cut it into a square to help it stay flat. Store 1–2 days in a zip-lock bag.
To add color and flavor: Try a little vanilla, cinnamon, orange juice, maple syrup, coconut milk, mashed banana, or berries. Adjust ingredients to get the right thickness.
To write notes on your edible paper: Buy edible-ink markers or make your own ink by boiling grape or cranberry juice until thick. Or try edible paint made of melted chocolate!