It’s spring so we’re turning our attention to edible flowers in desserts. Forget corsages, bouquets, and wreaths, we want rose scented Turkish delight and honey lavender cheesecake. If a dessert can be decorated with flowers, that’s even better.
The consumption of flowers isn’t a new phenomenon. If you ate broccoli or cauliflower last night, you ate flower vegetables. Maybe you had capers on your smoked salmon breakfast bagel. Or maybe you washed your lunch down with a hops flavoured beer. There you go consuming flowers again as both capers and hops are technically just that.
Sometimes flowers are saved for special occasions and special desserts. Take for example Korea’s hwajeon or flower cake. Rice flour, honey, and seasonal flower petals are combined to make the cake which is used to celebrate Buddha’s birthday every April. On the hwajeon, we see petals from rhododendron, cherry blossoms, and violets.
While flowers can be candied and used to decorate a wide range of desserts, it’s not unusual to see fresh flowers on cakes and tarts. But flowers can contribute to a lot more than just decoration. They can add unique flavours, aromas, and colours to desserts sometimes in the form of butters, fruit preserves, and syrups. Some delightful combinations include lavender and lemon, strawberry and hibiscus, and violets and blueberries. Particular flowers like dandelions offer particular health benefits with their high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants plus anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic properties.
If you’re not sure what flavours to expect for certain flowers, we can help. Camomile has an apple-like flavour, while bee balm tastes like mint. Marigolds deliver a citrus flavour while anise hyssop is, you guessed it, one for anise fans. These actually work well when used to garnish cheese platters! But back to the flowers… Hibiscus flowers hint toward cranberries while roses are reminiscent of strawberries and green apples.
When it comes time to travel again, it’s worth marking in your calendars for Ontario’s IncrEdible Edibles Festival. For more of a road trip, California’s Petal to Plate Festival runs every April. Here guests can tour the Carlsbad Ranch Flower Fields and sample floral-inspired creations from chefs and mixologists! Until then, we always enjoy local creations that include edible flowers like roses, lavender, hibiscus, honeysuckle, orange blossom, violets…