Along the Grapevine


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Petits Fours aux Fleurs

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The spring flowers are in full bloom around here – and as spectacular as I have ever seen them. The other day when I was wandering in the woods foraging for fiddleheads I was able to get some pictures of our provincial emblem – the trillium. Even here in Ontario they are a rare sight. Found mostly in wooded areas, or what’s left of them, they flower only briefly, but if you do find them you are likely to see them in masses. They are truly impressive.

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And sometimes they are red, and sometimes a cross between red and white.

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I bought one trillium last year for my garden. It survived but has not bloomed yet. It’s a start.

But I do have at the moment a great selection of wild flowers some of which I wanted to feature on this blog and share with the guests at Fiesta Friday #68.

Some of the edible flowers I have are: fruit blossoms, lilacs, wild strawberries, violets, forsythia, forget-me-nots, rose scented geraniums.

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Flowers are not a major source of food – they are often bitter and unless they are served very fresh they do not serve the purpose for which they are intended, which is to prettify the dish. They are finicky to preserve in candied form, and some lose their colour when cooked (e.g. wild violets).

I did find that drying them in the oven with just the oven light on, or in a dehydrator at the very lowest setting for about four hours does concentrate the colour and they can thenĀ be groundĀ into a powder and used as a colouring as well as adding a distinctive flavour. They can also be mixed with sugar and saved for several months.

I used only three colours to decorate these petits fours: forsythia for yellow, violets for purple and a mixture of lemon balm and violet leaves for green. The flavours were floral enough to add a taste of spring, but for the violets I mixed in a little lavender sugar to give them a boost. As the season progresses, I will collect other edible flowers to use in a similar way, avoiding the necessity of commercial food colourings.

I made the cake with a gluten-free batter of ground almonds and cornflour, but a sponge cake recipe is also ideal. I baked it very thin in a cookie sheet, divided it into three, and spread the top of two pieces with rose geranium apple jelly. Any smooth seedless fruit preserve can be used.

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I stacked them and iced the top layer with a white icing made of coconut oil, icing sugar and cream to make it as white as possible. I then cut them into squares and covered them with a royal icing which I divided in four and added the colours to three of them. A little edible fresh wild flower and/or leaves as a garnish and voila!

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Next time I would bake it a bit thicker and just make it two layers, as the three layers makes it more difficult to slice neatly. I loved using the flowers, and was pleased to have these dainty cakes to serve guests.