Of all the darlings of the Parisian food world, one is eternally loved, a practically no-fail choice, especially for the romantics among us, and that is the rose. Paris has a love affair with roses and rose essence; never too strong, always true to flavor, always an interesting and delicious dessert component, which I will explain more in tomorrow’s post. Today, though, I want to give you a quick tutorial for an easy dessert component of a French and especially Parisian dessert, and that is candied rose petals. True, the Parisians prefer to buy a rose-something-dessert rather than make it. That’s why Pierre Hermé has an app for ordering his pastries. But don’t be daunted by the idea of incorporating roses into your cuisine and especially your desserts. Try just a few petals: it’s surprisingly easy to make and also easy to adapt using complete flowers for a wonderful garnish effect for a dessert platter. Your supplies are simple: some granulated sugar, a few rose petals (spray-free please) and one egg white. One egg white will coat dozens of petals; I prefer to make as many petals as I can use immediately, but you can also make these in summer and save them in an airtight tin for use in winter.
You will do a better job if you have a pair of tweezers; a pastry brush is optional, and a spoon can be used to sprinkle the sugar, but I’d rather use my fingers.
Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl; about 10 seconds. Hold a rose petal by the stem-end with the tweezers and drag the petal through the egg white, coating both sides. Using the pastry brush to apply the egg white also works well, but it’s more work. I happen to like a thick coat of sugar, so I prefer to drag the petal through the egg white rather then brush it on. Shake off the excess egg white or drag the petal over the edge of the cup of egg whites; aim for a relatively even wash of egg white; then sprinkle the entire petal liberally with the sugar. Coat the petal so that there is no egg white showing; you should only see sugar crystals. Try it once and see if you like it with more sugar or less. I brought this particular sugar back from France with me this week, and I like that it’s coarse and a little crunchy, somewhere between our cane sugar and sanding sugar.
Set the petals on a non-stick surface like a Silpat to dry. Set them out in the sun on a warm dry day and they will be finished in an hour. “Finished” means they are stiff and dry to the touch. Try to avoid doing this on cold or damp winter days, or you may have problems with the egg white drying completely. Some people use a warm oven, but that’s problematic as you don’t want to bake the petals, you just want them to dry. The sun works best, and low humidity locations will do the work in an hour. You can select perfect petals and retain their original shape, say for placing whole on top of a cupcake, but for these today I am going to scissor them up into small pieces so I don’t care about their shape, what I see here is fine.
“Finished” sugared rose petals retain their original shape and delicate flavor, and the sugar crystals only enhance their look and color. I used pink and red petals today as those are the last blooms on my rose bushes. But consider any color rose from your garden; oranges and pinks are great in combination….or lavender or yellow roses…
Use your kitchen scissors or shears to slice the petals into fine slivers to top desserts..cupcakes, pancakes or whatever. Also consider sugaring whole flowers for a beautiful garnish: roses or camellias work so well; especially here the white camellia; same process; I brushed just a bit of egg white on the tips of the petals and dipped the flowers upside-down into the sugar; pretty effect for a cake topper; I love a sugared white flower. I could see one of these for a place setting for spring or Mother’s Day~
Tomorrow I’m going to show you how to assemble a Parisian-style creme puff, topped with candied rose petals, of course.
Stay tuned for the next post…great for a little Valentine’s Day treat or Easter or Mother’s Day….today I made them for my Sis’s birthday and she was thrilled; texting me that her office “LOVED” them in all caps and all eaten.
Give candied flowers a try next time you have some roses, violets or other edible flowers on hand, you will not be disappointed and trust me, it’s easy!