Recipe: candied violets
After a difficult week for Kaweah, Jeremy and I made an appointment with her vet on Friday. Our intention was to mostly get a gauge on the progression of her laryngeal paralysis. Oh boy, you’ve never seen anyone perk up like Kaweah does when Doc Newton enters the room. He smiled and greeted her with a “How’s my favorite patient?!” and proceeded to feed her about a meal’s worth of dog treats. After a thorough check up, he reported that her lungs and heart are as strong as ever, but that he couldn’t tell us how her breathing or her canine degenerative myelopathy (doggy lou gehrig’s disease) would play out. Doc Newton seems to think she’s doing well and said to just enjoy her remaining time, however long it may be.
sun naps rank up there with raw beef and prosciutto
Thank you for being so understanding and supportive, my friends. I was feeling frayed at the edges, but I think I’ve come to a point of acceptance of what will eventually come (at least, I tell myself I have). Kaweah is getting more time on the people bed, and since she lost a few pounds, she enjoys more raw beef snacks, carrots, cucumbers, bananas, peanut butter, and other yummy things. I’ve never been a terribly patient person, but Kaweah, in her twilight, is teaching me patience and some important life lessons.
crescent moon thinly veiled in clouds at sunset
The trails around my neighborhood are almost completely melted out, though still muddy in a few places. Is it odd that I feel strangely guilty for trail running and mountain biking instead of skiing? Don’t worry, we’re still skiing (I doubt any of you are actually worried about my ski days…), but the non-snow activities have been wonderful. I’m finding myself cranking up hills that used to be a slog just a year ago, and navigating with ease the single tracks that gave me pause last season. And the best part? The pasque flowers are blooming on my trails which means all of the other wildflower lovelies are soon to follow, and then wild strawberries and huckleberries and wild raspberries and porcini!
pasque flowers just opening
what they look like on the inside
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. We are still planted squarely in spring (with a snow storm approaching in the high country – woohoo!). When I was foraging for violets with Wendy, she asked if I was going to candy any of them. Well, no… I was fairly single-minded in my quest to make violet syrup. “Oh, you should definitely make some candied violets. Another great OCD activity.” I asked if she had made them before and she replied yes, but that once was enough for her. Why not?
pick violets with long stems for candying
you’ll need egg white, superfine sugar, and violets on stems
gently rinse or spray violets with water and shake dry
First, you want to pick violets with long stems because it makes it much easier to handle and candy the flower itself. [Please read my tips and warnings on foraging for wild violets.] Next, you should get a hold of a tiny paint brush. I happen to have a handful that I use for application of luster dust and other edible decorations. Instead of rinsing my violets in water, I used a misting bottle to spray them thoroughly and shake the excess water off in a sieve. Brush the violets with egg white. After the first few violets, you will get the hang of unsticking the petals from one another or locating the spots you missed with egg white after sprinkling the sugar on the flower. I recommend using superfine sugar because the grain of regular sugar is just too coarse for the tiny, delicate violets.
whisk the egg white until frothy
ready to roll: violets, paint brushes, egg white, superfine sugar
brush each petal with egg white on the front and back
sprinkle sugar evenly over the blossom
Sprinkle sugar on the violet a couple of times to ensure you coat the whole thing. Shake off any excess sugar between coatings. If there are dry spots, carefully apply a daub of egg white and sprinkle sugar to cover it up. There is a fine line between preserving the structure and color of the violet and turning it into a misshapen sugar cube. After each violet is candied, set it on a drying rack or parchment paper to dry. Mine were dry within an hour thanks to our arid climate. You may need to let them sit out for up to 24 hours before they are hard and dry. Once the candied violets are ready, you can cut the stems off at the base of the flower.
cutting the stems off
I only candied about three dozen violets because I was tired of getting sugar everywhere (and I mean, everywhere). Was once enough for me? Well… it’s such a simple process for a beautiful result that I might be willing to do a bigger batch next season, especially now that I know what I’m doing. Having used commercial candied violets (which come in pieces and mooshed up blossoms), I really like the quality of my whole violets. I placed mine in a little Weck jar, but any airtight container should do. They store well for up to a month or two. Candied violets are certainly pretty, but how do they taste? They taste like violets, but sweet! It’s subtle and lovely. Something to grace a little sweet treat.
perfect for a cupcake
or a mini cake
violets are blue (or purple)
1/2 – 1 cup violets with stems, loosely packed
1 egg white
1 cup superfine sugar
Gently rinse or mist the violets. Shake off excess water and then spread the violets on paper towels or an absorbent dish towel to dry. Feel free to give them a light toss to help remove any remaining water droplets. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl until frothy. Have a drying rack set on a baking sheet or parchment paper nearby. For each violet, hold it by the stem and carefully paint each petal with egg white using a tiny paint brush (preferably one that hasn’t been used for anything other than food). Be sure to paint both the front and back of the flower, coating every surface. Sprinkle the superfine sugar over the violet so that it sticks to the egg white. Shake off any excess sugar. Sprinkle another coat or two until the whole flower is covered with sugar (but not so much that you can’t tell it’s a flower anymore). Set the violet on the drying rack or parchment to dry. Repeat for the rest of the violets. Let the violets dry for up to 24 hours. Cut the stems off each violet. Store the violets in an airtight container for up to a month or two. Makes as many violets as you started with.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
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