“Rose is sent to earth by the gardeners of paradise for empowering the mind, the eye and the spirit.” Rumi
This is the time of year I release my stingy hold over my stores of dried roses and allow myself to enjoy their enchanting presence more liberally in teas, in cooking and in treats. I know as the shimmering vibrant green of first growth spreads across the landscape – that a new season of fresh blooms is just around the corner.
Rose is, of course, a flower of love and sacred to Venus. So every year I ceremonially crack open my stores to create a Valentines Day Treat that captures her sensual, loving, nurturing and magical charms. While I make rose sugar every spring with fresh petals I decided to experiment and see if I could make sugar with the dried rose petals instead. And it worked! Beautifully!
I made two Valentines treats with this wonderfully aromatic and rosy sugar! Coco-Rose Balls (basically dried coconut, ground almonds, dried rose petals and honey) which were very pretty.
But the pièce de résistance was Rose-Honey Rice Pudding. Fragrant, creamy and so very nurturing, this is sensualized comfort food at it’s best. It all begins with whirring about 2 cups of dried petals in a coffee grinder until they form a fine powder. Then you sieve off the large bits for a finer texture. You’ll add some of this rose powder right into the rice pudding.
Then you’ll mix the rose powder with granulated sugar for a sparkling rose sugar topping. If you don’t have any dried rose petals of your own, don’t worry they usually can be purchased through your local herb store or supplier. They’re also found in many middle eastern speciality stores as they are a staple in much middle eastern cuisine!
And because this rosy Valentine treat has the dried petals blended right in, it’s both deliriously romantic and good for you! Rose has been used as an aphrodisiac since antiquity and contains volatile oils which soothe stress, relax the body and release “feel good” endorphins. It also contains phenylethylamine-related compounds produced by the brains of people in love.
Rose is also a gentle healer, a cooling anti-inflammatory, packed with antioxidants soothing to irritated skin and good for achy bones, creaky joints and arthritic conditions. Pliny the Elder, the Roman natural philosopher, described 32 different medicinal uses for the rose and physicians in ancient Persia, India and China all used the rose medicinally as well.
I’ll share the recipe for the Rose Rice Pudding “Cake” below but first I’ll tell you how to whip up the Rose Balls. I started with blending the dried rose petal and dried coconut up in the food processor. For 1 cup of dried coconut, I used about 3/4 cup of petals. The result was a dark pink purplish mixture that smelled heavenly!
I put the rose coconut mixture in a bowl, added 4 tablespoons of ground almonds then mixed with honey, a dash of cardamom, a dash of rosewater and a pinch of sea salt. Add just enough honey to make it easy to form into balls – watch out too much will make it sticky & unworkable! Then I rolled the balls liberally in my rose sugar. Pretty easy. If I made them again I would take some time to infuse the petals in warm honey as well.
But back to the Rose Rice Pudding – a combination of rose, cream and fragrant rice which is unbelievably rich and delicious. I started again with whirring up my rose petals in the coffee grinder. I made about a cup and a half of dried rose powder. I cooked my brown short-grain rice first, and then while still warm, tossed in 1/2 cup of ground petals, gave a stir and let sit for an hour. I took another half cup of the rose petals and added to a cup of honey and warmed on the stove (lowest heat) for an hour. I then sieved off the petals from the honey – and now I was ready to go!
I combined both the warmed honey and the rice in a bowl, then whisked together with eggs and cream and poured into a greased cake pan. This I baked into a kind of cake which I served up with warm cream and more rose sugar! And I truly, truly, think it says I love you.
Rosy Rice Pudding Cake
- 3 cups of pre-cooked short-grain rice (with rose petal powder already added)
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of rose-infused honey
- 1/2 cup of rose sugar
- 1 tablespoon of rosewater
- 1 1/2 cups of light cream (for serving).
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a small cake pan. (spring release is best!)
Combine rose-infused honey and the pre-cooked rice in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together three eggs. Add a cup of cream and whisk well.
Add this wet mixture into the pre-prepared rice. Blend well and then pour into a greased baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350. Let cool. Release from the cake pan and cover the top liberally with rose sugar. Serve in bowls with warm cream.