What do you see first at most garden centers this time of year? The happy faces of table upon table of pansies and violas! I live in a hot, dry desert-y area and pansies don’t do well in my yard. Does this stop me from buying and planting them? Nope! I just can’t resist the hand-painted look of those beautiful faces–some even have whiskers! They look lovely planted in pots right outside my front door, welcoming the spring.
Up til this year, that’s been enough. Buy a couple packs of pansies, plant them, enjoy them until they start to fry in the hot sun and then compost them. I’ve known for a while pansy flowers were edible. Garnishing salads and desserts, they provide a splash of color. For some reason, this year is the year I decided to do something culinary with pansies. I decided to crystalize them and use them as a garnish for a cake I want to bake for Easter. I Googled around and found different techniques. Most were like this. Gather a few things.
- some freshly picked pansies–mine are still on the plants!
- some mint leaves, if you want
- an egg white
Tools you’ll need: a small, clean paintbrush, a pair of tweezers
Make an egg wash by beating an egg white gently with a splash of water.
Wash pansies and mint leaves in a bowl of water.
Dry them gently between two paper towels.
Set up an area to work with dry pansies and mint, egg wash–with a paint brush, sugar with a spoon and an extra little bowl, a platter or tray lined with parchment or waxed paper, a pair of tweezers.
Hold pansy by the tiny bit of stem you left (or hold mint with tweezers) and carefully paint all surfaces, including under/between petals, with egg wash. Not too goopy, just wet enough to hold the sugar.
Hold painted pansy over the small bowl and use the spoon to sprinkle sugar over the surfaces.
Isn’t that pretty?! All glittery and candy-like and still a pansy! Place the sugared pansy (mint leaf) on the parchment paper. Let dry overnight–longer if it’s humid.
When they’re dry, they will be “crisp” and ready to use as a dessert garnish!
This is after nearly 24 hours of drying. The pansies and leaves are crisp, a bit fragile, and look like candy.
They’re sitting on a family heirloom platter that was always called the violet platter, and always trotted out for special occasions during spring and summer. The embroidered cloth in the background of most of the pictures was hand-embroidered by my grandmother. I love having these beautiful pieces of my family history; the connection to the women in my family. I’m planning on using these flowers and mint leaves to garnish an egg-shaped Easter cake, using pans my mom gave me years ago. Tune in to Sweet-Tooth Saturday tomorrow for the glorious and yummy results!