How to “candy” flowers

If you want a dessert garnish that’s sure to knock your guests’ socks off this spring or summer, nothing does it better than candied flowers. Not only do they taste amazing (like flowers, only candy), they give anything they’re applied to a kind of elegant, homey, fussed-over touch. They take a little time of course, but heck, you’ve got plenty of that to spare, haven’t you?

All you need is a clean (new) model-maker’s paint brush, some edible flowers, a little egg white and some superfine sugar, the color of which is perfectly matched to the flower you’re going to preserve. What, you mean you don’t have any of that lying around? Well then it’s easy enough to make. Start with some plain crystal sugar and put it into the bowl of your food processors like so:

Process it for about a minute until it’s pulverized into a rough equivalent of superfine sugar. You can also buy the real thing if you prefer.

Now then, it’s time to color it. Just add drops of food coloring until you have the shade you want (food processors are excellent color blenders). Here I’m using a gel color, but a liquid also works. Both can give you a speckle-y end product in a food processor, so if you want a perfectly uniform sugar, you’ll need to pour it into a bowl and rub it between your fingers.

Here’s my shade of — what else, I live with a 4-year-old — pink. It’s kinda speckled, but I’m OK with that. Speckly, uniform…either looks nice.

How well is it matched to my lilacs? Not so well, but it’ll work fine nonetheless.

So then, to begin candying separate out an egg white, put it in a small bowl and stir it up with a fork.

And stir.

And stir.

You want to completely break the albumen down so you don’t get any jelly-like clumps on your flowers, just a smooth coat of white. Now then, grasping your flower by the stem (and these lilacs are a pretty darn small), paint the top side with a very light, even coating of egg white…

…then the bottom side.

Press the moistened blossom into your sugar…

…and sprinkle more on the back to cover. Remove the flower and give it a little spin between your fingers to shake off any excess or clumps.

Lay them out on a cookie sheet or half-sheet pan to dry overnight.

Use them the next day or keep them stored in tupperware in single layers (you can put paper towels in between) up to a couple of months. Use on cupcakes, to garnish crème brûlée, ice cream and just about any kind of tart. I stuck about 100 of them all over a cake I once made for little Josephine’s baptism. It was a show-stopper.

6 thoughts on “How to “candy” flowers”

  1. Joe,

    If the goal is to get a thin layer of egg white on each flower, could you take a mixture of egg white and water, thoroughly mix it with an immersion blender, then dip each flower? It seems like the thinner mixture wouldn’t clump up or lay on too thick, and then you could just put the flowers in the colored sugar once they’ve partially dried.

    Are edible flowers generally too delicate for such a treatment?

  2. What a beautiful idea! Now I’m going to go looking up chsrts for various edible flowers!!

    I wonder tho- could the uncooked egg white cause risk for guests with very sensitive autoimmune health issues?

    1. Possible if unlikely. All the sugar would almost kill any baddies. However pasteurized egg white works just as well, and it’s not impossible to find in cartons in larger grocery stores.

      – Joe

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