Candied Violets and Lilac Blossoms

They are beautiful. They are exotic. They are delicious.

Have you ever eaten a flower?  They taste exactly like they smell, and taking time to crystallize them is artfully therapeutic.

However, if you are hoping for a buddy to assist you’ll probably need to bribe them.  I’m thinking wine but if you don’t drink – this takes tons of time – I’m still thinking wine.

OR…

this could be the perfect distraction for the “chat” you need to have with ____.  Both will be so engaged in candying flowers that there will be no awkwardness.  Where was this idea when I was stumbling through awkward chats?

The photo below is of our beautiful lilacs under branch breaking wet snow. This was dubbed Snowpril by the media.  The biggest snow in late April in recent memory.

And this…

…made me pick all these sweet violets and lilacs so they would not freeze.

Candying (crystallizing) flowers kind of suspends them in time.  I like that!  In December I can bite into one of the tiny lilac flowers, close my eyes, and be back in May for a moment.  That will be very nice, let alone how beautiful they are even underneath a layer of crisp sugar.

THESE ARE SO BEAUTIFUL.

Enough tiny flowers that will be lovely on cakes or petit fours, cupcakes.   I learned how to do something new, all because of a big bad storm. I work several jobs, most of us do; you know how life gets going and you can’t stop until one day you take a deep breath and say “Where did Spring go?”.  “I think I missed it.”.

To get started you will need bunches of very fresh edible flowers: violets, lilacs, borage, pansies, rose petals and even mint leaves.

Very Important:  Do NOT ever use flowers that have had chemicals used on them.  If there is any uncertainty do not use them.

Choose only perfect flowers and leaves that have not begun to wilt at all.  This is important.  Even the smallest amount of wilting will collapse under the little bit of weight of egg wash and sugar. Look back at the lilacs under that wet snow.  A healthy fresh flower has amazing staying power.  That was a 48 hour heavy snow they survived.

Egg White(1): beaten with a fork until frothy (If you have concern about raw eggs choose instead powdered egg whites found on the grocery store shelf).

Refined Sugar(1 cup) : (not powdered, not granulated)  Can take granulated sugar, whir it in a blender for about 15 seconds and it becomes what is called refined sugar.  Too long and it becomes powdered

Waxed paper, 2 small bowls and a small paint brush for each person.  Also, a cookie sheet or cooling rack to on which to dry flowers.  To store, you will need a tin or plastic container to layer flowers between waxed paper so they will keep for up to a year.  If tightly sealed, the flowers can be frozen in the container and keep longer than a year.

You are ready to start.  Remember – only fully fresh flowers. Discard weak or fading flowers.

Here is an example of perfect:

Take the paint brush and dip it into the foamy egg whites and literally paint every exposed part of the flower, including the inside and the back and tops of the stem.

This takes time so just let go and give yourself over to it.   I’ve read about the idea of immersing the whole flour into the egg whites to save time, and some flowers might do okay but mine got all snarly and bunched up and it ended up either ruining them or I had to take even more time unfolding the petals again.  Just go for the right method.  Put the flower on the waxed paper if it helps.  Then you will immerse the flower in the refined sugar, again making sure every visible part is covered.

After that process is finished make sure the petals look the way you want them to and place the flower gently onto the waxed paper to dry

Do the same with lilac blossoms.  Lilacs separate in small “bouguets” and can be candied  like I did in the photo above, or do individual flowers.  Lilacs are much easier to work with than violets because they are sturdier.

Candied flowers should be saved for only extremely special occasions or gifted to someone who will appreciate them.

Fresh lilacs on a carrot cake!

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6 thoughts on “Candied Violets and Lilac Blossoms

  1. So lovely and creative! I adore violets, though I’ve never tried to candy anything myself. Love your idea of completing the process while having a much-needed chat with someone, haha — the perfect opportunity to stay busy while discussing something awkward!

    • I adore them too, Meg. It’s a tradition for girls in my family to take a violet walk every spring. Take a look at how we used them to make a beautiful salad, including the leaves, in a previous post in April. And that awkward situation….perfect!

  2. These are really lovely.

    This is actually a quick candy. I wouldn’t recommend keeping them until December or even to the end of the month. You are using raw eggs and even dehydrated they present a risk, not to mention that by doing this process you are sealing in all of the flowers moisture by which you create a perfect moisture and protein rich environment for bacteria to grow.

    Conversely, the paint brush method can also leave room for openings in the small crevices of the flower, again lowering your shelf life on the other end of the spectrum. These are short term use candies because you are not replacing the water content with sugar. Although beautiful, I encourage you to take a look at traditional french candied violets that have a rich hue and staying power.

    It involves dipping them in a warm sugar syrup and then laying them out and cooled quickly to retain colour and form, like blanching in a weird way. Have fun 🙂

    • Fascinating, Teddi. At first I thought you were just being critical, since I did mostly use powdered eggwhites. However, you went on to suggest a method I’ve not explored. I’m going to try that…NOW! The violets are blooming!!!

    • I tried the warm sugar method and my violets didn’t hold their shape. Too heavy. I’m back to the dried meringue powder method and a paint brush. Takes more time, with better results for me.

  3. Actually, my grandmother use to make them PERFECTLY – she kept them in the freezer – they stayed beautifully and were delicious! She was an amazing lady!

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