I’m racking my brain, but I actually cannot think of any confection more fanciful than candied flowers. Blossoms covered in sparkly sugar make everything better. For example: Place an expertly frosted cake on the table and you’ll hear, “What a perfectly lovely cake”. Sprinkle a few candied violets on top and you’ll get, “This cake is so beautiful, I can hardly bear to eat it. Let me Instagram it before you cut it!” And the thing is, candied flowers are really very easy to make, if only a little time-consuming.
What you need:
berry sugar or other fine grain sugar
What you do:
Forage for some lovely edible blooms like the pansies and primrose pictured above. Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of wild edible flowers fit for confection. Mint leaves and rosemary work really well, too. Oh, and do avoid the buttercups. They’re poisonous and therefore taste terrible.
Wash your blossoms. Give them a good shake and gently pat them dry. I left the stems on mine to make candying them easier. You can leave them for a wilder look or snap them off easily when dried.
Using a small, clean, food safe (obviously) paintbrush, paint each petal (front & back) with a thin layer of egg white. I bought pasteurized egg whites, because of a particularly irrational fear of salmonella. But if you’re using farm fresh eggs and a bit of common sense, you’ll be fine.
Sprinkle the blossom with the fine sugar. Don’t drop your flowers into the sugar or you can wind up with big blobby mess, obscuring all those delicate flowery features you want to highlight.
Lay your now sugar-sparkly blossoms on wax paper in a single layer and pop them into the oven at 150 °F. If you have a cruddy old oven like mine that won’t go below 175 °F, you can pop the flowers in with the door cracked open. You don’t want to cook your flowers! I put mine in an oven still warm from dinner (but not hot) and left them in overnight with the door closed as I didn’t want to run my oven overnight. My fear of a house fire in the night rivals my fear of salmonella.
* Note: in the above photo you’ll see pink Bergenia or “pigsqueak” blossoms. After a lot of research, I found this plant listed on multiple non-toxic lists, so I took a chance and added the flowers to the mix. I ate them with no ill effect. But as always with this sort of thing, proceed with caution and at your own risk .
Now, Mme Stewart recommends you just leave the flowers to dry for 3-4 days in a warm place. Me? I don’t have the patience. I prefer the barely-warm oven method.
Once your flowers are completely dry, pry them gently off the waxed paper and store them in an airtight container. Scatter them on everything or give them as gifts. They’ll keep for at least a month.