Adding sugar to violas isn't what makes them edible, but it sure makes them pretty. Violas and their close relatives johnny jump ups and violets are among that special class of flower that is not only delightful to see, but tasty too. In the ultimate sensory experience, here's a quick tutorial for making your own sugared flowers:
N.B.: For more about violas, pansies, and johnny jump ups, see Plant of the Week: Violas, A Love Story.
Photographs by Erin Boyle.
- Violas, grown without pesticides (One of my favorite varieties is viola cornuta, also called Coconut Swirl Violas; $2.25 for 25 seeds from 2BSeeds)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Superfine sugar
- Pastry brushes (or a very clean paint brush)
Above: Select clean, dry flowers for sugaring. If you don't have violas growing in your own garden, make sure to ask your local nursery or farmer to be sure that the flowers have been grown without pesticide.
Above: A bag of 20 Edible Violas is $12 from Terrain.
Above: The stem of a viola isn't edible, but I like to leave mine attached to help me hold the flower while I'm sugaring it. I used a pair of kitchen shears to snip off stems after my flowers were cured. If you prefer to remove the stem before sugaring, you can hold your flower with a pair of tweezers instead.
Above: In this recipe, the egg white acts a lot like glue. Mix the white of one room-temperature egg with about a tablespoon of water to get the right consistency.
Above: Use your pastry paint brush to paint your egg white mixture directly onto the flower. Sugar will only stick to places that have been coated in egg white, so make sure to give a thorough coating to both sides of the petals.
Above: Once your flower is coated in egg white, dip it into your superfine sugar. Tap off any excess sugar and set your flowers to dry on a piece of parchment paper. It will take about eight hours for the flowers to properly dry, but if you're impatient like I am, you can probably get away with less than that.
Above: For the queen bee of springtime cakes, add your sugared violas to the top of a white cake with an apricot jam filling to match the flowers' bright orange centers.
For more of Erin's DIY projects, see A Beauty Mask Made From Flowers and Miracle Cure for Spring Allergies: Gentle Nettle Tea.