Friday, April 16, 2010

How To Make Candied Violets

April 2010 333It’s time, it’s time. Violet time, that is.  In the Northeast, it’s the time of year when many people regard these dainty little flowers as pests in their lush suburban lawns. I see them as an opportunity – a once a year harvest to gather for free. The only thing it costs is your time.

Last year I told you all about making violet water and violet jelly, and even using raw violets in a luscious cold lemon violet souffle.

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This year it’s all about candying violets.  It’s a bit tedious, but you can get a bunch of them finished in under an hour. All you need are violets, sugar, egg whites and a small paint brush. It’s kind of a fun project for kids too and I remember making these when my kids were little with my friend and former neighbor Jeannette, who moved back to her home town, Santa Barbara.

Gather some violets from your lawn, a nearby park or anyplace that hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides. Pick them with the stems for this recipe since they’ll be easier to maneuver while you’re using the paint brush.

April 2010 272

Wash the flowers carefully and let them dry.

Take one egg white and beat it with a whisk for a few minutes – only until it starts to foam.

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Then take a small container and put some of the beaten egg white into it. I find it easier than trying to paint the petals directly from the big bowl, but you can find your own comfort level. With the big bowl, I have the tendency to put way too much egg white on the petals. You might be tempted to just dip the flower in the egg white and then dip into the sugar. Go ahead and try but you’ll end up with a big clump of something that’s unrecognizable at a violet. Painting with a brush will allow the individual petals to show.

Dip the paint brush in the egg white and holding the stem of the flower in one hand, use the other hand to paint the petals on both sides. I kind of flatten them in the little container and brush each side.

Then dip into the sugars. Holding the stem with my left hand, I lay the top of the flower into the sugar, then with my right hand, I use a demitasse spoon to cover the other side with sugar. Use superfine sugar if you can find it – that’s what the white sugar is in the picture. The other sugar is something I’ve had in a container in the basement for probably 10 years and it’s not superfine. The color is also more pink than purple, but hey, I didn’t think it was all that important to take a trip to the store just to find the perfect color match.

April 2010 274 Shake out the flower and set it on some parchment paper or waxed paper that’s been put on top of a cake rack. The air space will help them dry faster.

April 2010 280 Unless it’s a humid day, they shouldn’t take too long to dry – a few hours at most. When they’re dry, snip the stems and you’re ready to use them. Here are the ones covered in white superfine sugar.

April 2010 288 And here are the ones covered in pink sugar that’s not superfine.

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I also tried using the same technique with some pansies. It’s a little trickier, but you can do it. They are very delicate and break easily, so handle carefully. When they’re completely dry, store in a covered container in a dark, dry place. They don’t keep indefinitely, but they’ll be fine for at least a month, maybe longer. The pansies in particular have the tendency to fade if kept too long.

Use these to decorate cakes, cupcakes or other desserts. I’ve got a great recipe for you coming up in my next post using these candied violets, so get out there and start foraging this weekend.

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30 comments:

doggybloggy said...

I think I still have some violet syrup in a jar in the fridge from last year - thanks again for introducing this to me

Susan @ SGCC said...

How pretty they are! Perfect for Springtime baking. I've bought them in jars before and they were hard as granite. Will have to see if I can find some violets.

Anna Allais said...

Linda,
sei un'artista!

Bellini Valli said...

This is one of those arts that shouldn't be lost.

Mimi said...

they are so cute. I've always wanted to try this.
Mimi

Susan from Food Blogga said...

How delightful these are, Linda! I wish I had the patience to do it.

Sue said...

Those are so lovely. You could use them on so many different things. I think they'd look great on a pavlova type of dessert.

Phyllis said...

Gorgeous and easy enough even for me to do! Thanks for sharing your technique with us! Have a great weekend :)

Anonymous said...

These are so charming. I love how you find things in nature and turn them into something beautiful.

chococo said...

I've always wondered how to make these, thank you for sharing!
Wast week I made some violets in sugar syrop and while writing this I'm drinking a violet-lemon-drink.

Sue said...

PS
I JUST saw this:
Edible flowers can take the cake

Linda said...

Beautiful Linda....
I have no violets but I do have tons of Pansies...I have been meaning to try doing this...
Thanks for the push!

Claudia said...

Minnesotans call them Johnnie-jump-ups. I love how they just spontaneously appear - in gardens,lawns and through patio cracks. I will try this - although I don't want to pick mine. Maybe I'll pick someone else's.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

To the best of my knowledge, I don't think I've ever spotted violets in my neck of the California hills. Otherwise, I'd love to make these. Other than purple lupines, these are my favorite flowers. They are gorgeous! Great tutorial.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

They looks so pretty! I love their color. Can the same thing be done to rose petals?

Proud Italian Cook said...

Not only can you cook but you're crafty too! Now I'm going to be looking for violets. Nice project with my Granddaughter.

Stacey Snacks said...

I remember your violet post last year......these are so pretty!

Anonymous said...

queste violette sono molto romantiche Linda sei bravissima un bacio lucia

lisaiscooking said...

They're so pretty! I haven't planted violets for a couple of years, and I miss them. I've only candied them once before, but now I want to do it again!

Cathy said...

Wow, I'm so happy to know how to do this, Linda!! I was looking at little candied violets in a local shop, but didn't buy any because they were SO expensive. Now I can make my own! Thanks for sharing.

Jen_from_NJ said...

I just love these! Your creativity never ceases to amaze me!

joe@italyville said...

that is so cool. Great job Linda!

Marcellina said...

Aren't they gorgeous! I wish we just have violets growing in our lawn!

®osadimaggio63 said...

Hi Linda,
grazie della tua visita :-)
Queste violette candite, mia madre mi ricordo, che quando ero piccola me le comperava spesso ed erano deliziose !!!
Felice di aver potuto vedere come viene effettuata la lavorazione :-)
Buona domenica Myriam

Mary said...

These are really beautiful and can be used to decorate so many things. Thanks for storage and shelf life information. For whatever reason, the requests for pretty cakes are higher in warm weather, so it's nice to know these can be done ahead of time. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

tasteofbeirut said...

Oh if I could just get a hold of fresh violets! I would rush and make these!

Daniela said...

Bellissime queste violette, brava Linda.
Ciao Daniela.

Gracie said...

You're an artist.........

Lori Lynn said...

This is fabulous! Can't wait to put some flowers in my springtime dishes! Maybe I'll try your candied type too!

LL

Linda C. said...

I love this web page! I made candied violets this morning. I used sanding sugar, which are bigger crystals and should make a more glittery flower. Also you can do the same with mint leaves and rose petals.