Oh yes, lilacs are glorious to harvest but they’re not easy to prepare. Cooking with lilac is tricky and time consuming (you need to remove the stems) but this time is, of course, ideal for working in a little magical intention. Lilac is a potent spell-caster with the power of the Fairy Queen behind her- but more on her beautifying history later.
Let’s start by saying lilacs delicate scent can become rather vegetal when heated– as I discovered in my attempts to make a lilac cordial last year. In fact when I excitedly poured a small shot for my mother-in-law who absolutely adores lilacs, I was crushed when she couldn’t even identify the flavour!
I also infused Lilac in honey for four weeks but alas, it wasn’t anything to write home about either. What was spectacular however was the tiny honey coated blossoms which I dried on a high kitchen shelf. Crunchy sweet and perfectly preserved they have lasted over a year.
The problem according to the Urban Huntress is that the longer you let a lilac infusion sit, “the more “green” vegetable-like flavours come out when you just want the floral flavour.” Another issue is heat (as in my hot sugar-water for the cordial) which also seems to alter the taste, bringing out an almost tobacco like undertone. Interesting – but not what I was after.
But this year I think I got it. Inspired by an old recipe for magical lilac sugar (that grinds blossoms in sugar with mortal and pestle) I was delighted to discover a way of capturing the lilac’s dreamy essence. Subtle yet exquisite, it melts on the tongue evoking the scent of sun warmed lilacs on a spring day.
Also I discovered infusing blossoms in cream for an afternoon under the sun gently released their aromatic oils without changing them in any way. (Or put them warmed cream and let sit overnight.) While it was tempting to try to cook this into a lilac custard O worried this might alter the flavour, so I decided to whip it into a cream instead. To this I added the lilac sugar. Well – this was gorgeous.
So having promised to bring wildcrafted sweet treats to local spring fling gathering, I decided it was time for Lilac Cream Tarts to make their debut. And I discovered quite by accident (scraping the last of the lilac cream from the bowl the next day) that its flavour had become even more delicious. So best to let your cream infuse for at least 24 hours before placing in pre-cooked pastry shells (no baking!) to serve.
But back to the magic. While lilac has a plethora of uses from driving away ghosts, repelling evil and enhancing psychic ability, I decided it was lilacs longstanding connection to Venus the Goddess of Love and Beauty that I wanted to contemplate. As I surrendered to the task of pinching the blossoms from their stems, I allowed their scented allure to permeate my senses.
Paying careful attention to their delicate shapes, the shades of colors, from pale pink to deep purple, I called on Lady Tatiana, Queen of the Fae, to whom the lilac is beloved. Llewellyn’s Spell A Day offers a “Lilac Faerie Beauty Spell” to bring out your inner beauty and make it shine.
“Lady Tatiana, beautiful fae, I ask a boon this April day. Awaken my beauty from within. And let it glow upon my skin.”
Whether these Lilac Cream tarts will enhance your outer or inner beauty, I can’t really say. But biting into one will bring her enchanting fragrance to your taste buds. And when preparing these tarts, beauty won’t be far from your mind either, especially when you see the blossoms swirling in white cream, or the swoony mauve color of the lilac sugar. One thing is sure, making Lilac Cream Tarts is a magical experience.
Lilac Cream Tarts
- Three cups of lilac blossoms (stems already removed)
- 1 cup of organic sugar
- 2 cups of cream
- 3/4 cup of full fat or plain Greek Yogurt
- a pinch of cardamom
- 24 pastry tarts (you can make pastry from scratch of course -but you won’t find the recipe here!)
- Make Lilac Cream: Take two cups of blossoms and place in a glass bowl (see through) with two cups of whipping cream. Place in a sunny spot, allowing the sun to warm the cream for an afternoon. The longer the better. Then place in fridge and let sit overnight. Next day strain out the flowers.
- Make Lilac Sugar: Take one cup of lilac blossoms and place in food processor. Pour over one cup of sugar. Whiz until flowers are completely dissolved into sugar.
- Whip cream, slowly adding in the cup of lilac sugar. Add your pinch of cardamom. Then gently, by hand, blend the cream with the yogurt. (I find this stops the cream from being overly rich and overly sweet)
- Heat your oven to 350. Bake your pastry shells until golden brown. Once cooled, spoon about a tablespoon of your finished lilac cream into the shells. Garnish with a sprinkle of lilac sugar and a lilac blossom here and there.
- Should be served the same day ( the longer they sit the more likely the crust will become soggy) but honestly they’re not so bad the next day either.