Midsummer blooms: Candied flowers recipe

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Candied flowers

Finished candied flowers recipe. (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / July 5, 2014)

Ballet runs as regimented as army and kitchen. The three share a hierarchy (steep), a language (French) and a core value (discipline). The conscript battles his way to general, the dishwasher hustles his way to chef. So, too, the bumblebee in pink slippers stares at the soloist. She yearns for the spotlight.

It's a long trudge. Years of sweat, injuries and setbacks. Season after season suiting up as doll, cat, elf.

Then one midsummer night she takes center stage as Puck: saucy, daring, mischievous. She leaps and rolls. She mismatches couples, delighting in her handiwork: havoc.

After her final shrug come bows, executed by rank: chubby bugs, fair fairies, sugar-sweet flowers. Over the years, Puck has worked her way through these uniforms. She sinks and smiles, then defers to the couples — fine dancers whose costumes she still covets. There's always another front, station or pas de deux.

For tonight, she's done her job. We mortal fools know the joy of havoc and the comfort of order. My ballerina pulls off her woodland garb. No time for a hug. She's got a date.

Candied flowers

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 0

Wait: 24 to 48 hours

1 teaspoon cold water

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pasteurized egg white*

Clean, dry, organic violets, pansies, rose petals (even small whole roses), lavender blossoms, mint leaves or other edible flowers and leaves

Superfine sugar**

1. Mix: Use a fork to stir water and vanilla into egg white. Mix, as opposed to froth, the egg.

2. Paint: Use a pastry brush to paint one flower with egg white mixture on both sides.

3. Gild: Drop the painted flower into a bowl of superfine sugar. Toss to coat.

4. Dry: Set sugared flower on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining flowers. Let dry 24 to 48 hours. When dry, use to decorate a fanciful midsummer cake, cupcake, ice cream dish, cheese plate or anything else.

*Look for a carton stamped "pasteurized," or buy pasteurized egg whites by the pint.

**Stocked next to the regular sugar. Or make it by buzzing sugar in the blender or food processor. Stop when sugar is finer than granulated sugar and grainier than confectioners' sugar.

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