Violets pop up all over my yard every year at this time, and I’m always extremely excited when they do. Violets are edible, and though picking them can be a little painstaking, I really enjoy eating and making things with the delicate purple beauties. Yesterday, I made candied violets.
As I mentioned above, violets are delicate…fragile. If your lawn is similarly dotted, and you’d like to use them in a recipe, plan to do so right after you pick them (otherwise they will wilt). I decided to make just a small amount of sugared violets (I will tell you why tomorrow) so I didn’t pick that many flowers. If you want to make lots of candied flowers, or a syrup or jelly with your violets, you’ll need to pick quite a lot.
To make candied/sugared violets, all you need is the flowers, some sugar (I used organic sugar), and something to get the sugar to adhere to the flowers. Generally I would use beaten egg white, but since I wanted these candied violets to be vegan, I used a slurry of flax seeds and water*: approximately 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 3 tablespoons water. The mixture was somewhat thick so I did add a little more water as I was working.
Superfine sugar is the best type of sugar to use for candied flowers: you can whir regular (or organic) sugar in a food processor to make it more fine, if you like.
Use a tiny paintbrush to paint each flower with the binder (egg white or vegan egg substitute), then dip the flower into the sugar. I didn’t paint both sides of each flower (I think I will do so next time, though). I found it easiest to do deal with each flower by placing them on one of my fingers for the painting/sugar dipping. I didn’t leave the stems attached to all my violets when I plucked them but you can certainly do that, then snip them off after the flowers are fully dry.
I was in a bit of a hurry when I was making these, and not terribly concerned about coating the whole surface with binder/sugar. So maybe you’d could say my violets are “crystallized”, rather than candied, because they’re dusted with less sugar. In any case, once the flower is coated with the amount of binder/sugar that you want, place it on a piece of parchment paper. Put the candied flowers in an out-of-the-way place so they can dry overnight, or speed the drying by placing the parchment paper on a baking tray in a 200 degree F. oven for 13-15 minutes or so. Don’t over dry the candied flowers or they’ll become brittle and may break apart when you use them. Candied violets make a beautiful decoration for cakes, cupcakes, and other pastries.
Other ways to use violets: make a floral butter or pesto, or add to salads or beverages.
*My inspiration for the vegan sugared flowers was Lagusta.
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