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roses are red, violets are blue

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

voilà, violets!

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)

Candied Violets
[print recipe]

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

violet syrup (and soda) lavender lemonade candied orange peels chocolate-covered candied grapefruit

34 nibbles at “roses are red, violets are blue”

  1. Lauren Michelle says:

    Isn’t is amazing how capturing the beauty in photographs can transform a hardship into a beautiful memory. Pray that Kaweah is in comfort and has more time to share with you and your family. Funny how you captured that crescent moon tonight. I felt compelled and photographed it myself from NJ tonight because it was so beautiful. Not as captivating as yours but your work is an inspiration to me.

    -long time reader, Lauren

  2. Kristin says:

    Wow, those are gorgeous. But no way do I have the patience for that kind of project. These are hard but good life lessons you are learning. I hope that Kaweah remains comfortable and happy until the end. You are such wonderful people for her.

  3. Sherry says:

    Wow, did you make cupcakes and a cake just to have something to put the candy violets on?

  4. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    Those candied violets are breathtaking, Jen. I’m keeping Kaweah in my thoughts.

  5. swan says:

    hey, thought you could use this info…i asked a vet ‘how do you know when it’s time?’ and he replied that when a dog goes off to be away from you (which helped me to decide, b/c annie always was at our sides), then it’s around that time. her last day, she just wanted to be outside and didn’t engage w/ us.

    thinking of you all

  6. Amanda says:

    What a pretty cake! Seeing this reminded me we candied violets to decorate my sister’s engagement cake, many years ago, and made (very pale green tinted) white chocolate violet leaves to go with them – spread the melted chocolate on the back of the leaves, then peel off the leaves when they were set. It was a lot of work – your mint leaves look a lot nicer – could probably candy those too!
    Keeping you both and Kaweah in my thoughts – I feel like I know her, the way you write so well about her.
    – long time reader, Amanda

  7. Donna says:

    My back yard is covered with violets, both purple and white. Plenty for everyone… come on over!

  8. Kate says:

    Wishing Kawaeh many sunny naps and tasty treats, and happy days!

  9. Colleen says:

    I love that pup of yours. Kaweah is one happy dog:)

  10. jacquie says:

    i find it humbling to watch older pets age as they tend to have the ability to stay true to themselves and at teh same time accept what is coming. Some fight it all the way and others are content to snooze in the sun. Either way there is such a grace and wisdom in those old beings. They are great teachers. Wishing you, Jeremy and Kaweah as many sun filled days as possible.

  11. Five O'clock Shallots says:

    Wow! These are beautiful. What a lovely idea!

  12. Pey-Lih says:

    Gorgeous cake! Sorry to hear about your furry kiddo, Kaweah. When my former dog Oscar was 15 years old, he really taught me about patience and what it means to enjoy his presence during the last few months he was with us. I still miss him very much albeit our new member, Mocha. Thanks for sharing your story. She is lucky to have you guys as parents.

  13. Dani H says:

    I’m sure that you are making this time of her life some of the BEST time for Kaweah. I treasure the fact that I knew in advance that my precious cat companion of 17 years was going to leave me. It does help to know I gave him all the love I could in his final weeks. He is still part of my life, in my heart and memories, though he has been gone over eight years. *hugs*

  14. Melanie Evans says:

    I have to say that I’m a little apprehensive each time I see Kaweah’s name in your posts. I SO do not want to read what we who have and love pets know will come and always much sooner than we feel we can bear. Animals need to have much longer lives. They are so good for us and to us and we need them. That myelopathy sucks. Especially when other organs are going strong. When I had to say goodbye to my 15-1/2 yr old German Wirehair, Griffin, I felt my head was ready but my heart never was. If my head could have stayed in control it all would have been ok. But of course we wouldn’t want to live without what our hearts bring. I love your way of being and doing with Kaweah. Those sugared violets and the way you’ve decorated/frosted the cakes are so delicate and celebratory. Gorgeous!

  15. farmerpam says:

    Kaweah is so lucky to have you and Jeremy. Such a happy pup. I’ve always wanted to find the time to do candied violets. Maybe this is the year. Maybe. Thanks for reminding me.

  16. Kathryn Swanson says:

    Kaweah is a beautiful spirit and so are you. Soak up that warm sun sweet pup.

  17. Amy C says:

    Sooo, Alejandra stops every bike ride to pick flowers. She comes home and we have to put them in a bowl or vase for a few days until she finally forgets about them. She is obsessed with flowers picking! (When she was really little, she used to lick them to see what flavor they had.) I will show her this about candy making out of violets… it’s going to be both a head scratcher and an brain waker in that kid. Best to you both. Lots of belly rubs to Senorita K.

  18. meagn says:

    awwww kaweah!! may she enjoy the rest of her doggy time on earth to the fullest

  19. jill says:

    Wow, what a delicate labor for candies…beautiful. Enjoy your time with Kaweah. What a lucky dog. xo

  20. Winnie says:

    I made candied violets yesterday and just came upon your post, which I will link to in mine! Your violets came out far more beautiful than mine btw…hugs to you and Kaweah.

  21. M. K. says:

    I’ve been in love with Kaweah since my 1st reading of your Blog, but I hold her in even higher esteem upon learning that she likes proscuitto…Che Bella!

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  23. Cherie says:

    So glad she is comfortable and enjoying some indulgences – my sympathy for your situation – never easy. The flowers you photographed were stunning – thank you for always sharing such a different part of the world than I see every day in your beautiful pictures!

  24. Melissa says:

    You know I have a crazy love for your pup and the more it looks like her time is getting shorter, the more it pains me for you. I hope she can stay well and happy for a while longer.

  25. Lucy says:

    Hi Jen,

    I have been following your blog and tying your recipes for years. THANK YOU so much for doing such a fabulous job. Kaweah has stolen a piece of my heart, and I’m sending you both big hugs & lots of love.

  26. vanillasugarblog says:

    Oh Jen I had no idea, I’ve been so absent.
    I’m sorry about Kaweah.
    I do find it comforting though that you take such good care of her mentally and food -wise.
    I know she gets fed the best, and this is so important.
    I’m willing to bet she lasts a lot longer than you think.
    You are such a good Mommy–remember to keep that in your heart when you get sad. OK?

  27. jenyu says:

    Lauren – thank you.

    Kristin – yeah, these require quite a lot of patience. Not something I have in surplus either! ;)

    Sherry – yep.

    Eva – thank you!

    swan – thanks for the note. Some people have mentioned that before, but Kaweah has been going off on her own to be alone for over a year now. I think it has to do with her deafness. She can hear a little bit, but not enough, so our voices stress her out :( We’re still watching her. As long as she has an appetite, she’s good :)

    Amanda – wow, that’s so much work! I am sure your labor of love was absolutely stunning!

    Donna – Oh lady, how I wish :)

    Kate – thank you <3

    Colleen - so sweet of you.

    jacquie - thank you. That is beautiful.

    Five O'clock Shallots - :)

    Pey-Lih - thanks.

    Dani H - xoxo

    Melanie - Kaweah has lived a long and full life. At this point, I'm just willing to be here for her until the end. Jeremy and I don't really want to see her deteriorate too much more, so it's now just waiting and making sure she is not wanting for anything that we could possibly provide :) xo

    farmerpam - I hope you get a chance!

    Kathryn - thank you!

    Amy - Amos!!! ha ha ha!! Little Alej has curiosity and gumption. She's a good egg :) xxoo

    megan - thank you.

    jill - thanks, my friend.

    Winnie - yay for candied violets!! And thanks for the hugs xo

    M.K. - ;)

    Cherie - you're welcome!

    Melissa - love you, Mel xoxo

    Lucy - xo

    vanillasugarblog - thank you, sweetheart. And no worries - we can't all keep track of everything! Just know I really appreciate your sweet comment xo

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  29. Sharon says:

    Hi Jen- Do you have a recipe for your pretty cake too? How did you make the roses?

  30. jenyu says:

    Sharon – oh, I don’t recall. It could be any one of the layer cakes I have on the blog :) The roses are easy though, just use a large star pastry tip (Ateco #827 is what I used) and start piping from the center, spiraling outward while touching the previous spiral. Super easy!

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  32. Lyn Clark says:

    Hello, thank you very much for the violets recipe. What is the implement you are using to sprinkle the sugar please? Cheers

  33. jenyu says:

    Lyn – my fingers.

  34. Evie Murphy says:

    Man…mine always turn out with sugar on the petals but not enough in the center to hold them solid. I have hardened floppy floppy candied violets. Gorgeous as long as they’re sitting still, but as soon as I pick them up they collapse like drywall umbrellas.

    Oh well, I have plenty of time on my hands: COVID-19 free time is great for deep cleaning the house and doing neurotic projects. I can get out another egg and work on getting the centers solidified.

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