I have tons of weeds in my yard, but I don’t seem to have any violets. I bought a package of candied violets a while back and was saving them for some unknown perfect use. I think I bought them in the middle of winter when I was craving sunshine and summertime. When I saw that Maida recommended garnishing these vanilla creams with them, it sealed the deal on this being my next journal trial. The obviously French name makes me think that somewhere a French influence was behind the recommendation, but Maida doesn’t say.
Common blue or sweet violets are an edible weed. It’s funny that when we see them as a garnish for salads or fancy plates, or candied or frozen into ice cubes there awe inspiring aesthetic contribution takes the mind away from the typical association of a bothersome weed. It’s also a far cry from the herbal medicine that comes in powdered capsules. This is an example of culinary herbal medicine that is also good for the soul. Gentle, yet strong; cooling, soothing, and anti-inflammatory, filled with fiber and vitamins A and C, steeped with history of traditional medicinal uses. Eating flowers may seem like a foodie, gourmet sort of thing, but not really because broccoli and cauliflower are flowers. Using candied flowers isn’t new or fancy, either. In Victorian times when flowers had a prominent place in language, their symbolism was everywhere. Because flowers are so delicate, they are best eaten the day they are picked. There is a good chance that the candy idea came from an effort to preserve them or add to their sweetness.
I’ve never made candied flowers, but it doesn’t sound hard, maybe a little tedious and requiring a steady hand. The flower petals are painted with beaten egg whites, coated with fine sugar, and then dried on parchment paper. I think the most important part is to use flowers that are free of pesticides and in our world that may also be the hardest part.
These pots de creme weren’t hard either and they were smooth creamy deliciousness. My imperfection came from a film on the top, even though I covered them exactly as Maida instructed. Enter pretty violets to cover that all up.