There are a variety of beautiful and tasty edible flowers out there, but the pansy flower stands out with its many color variations—which come in a range from bright and vivid to gentle, pale pastel. They also come in gorgeous and vivid patterns. Not only can edible pansies dress up just about any dish you can think of, but they’re also very easy to use and incorporate into many dishes.
Why Are Pansies the Most Popular Edible Flower?
The pansy, a relative to the viola, symbolizes remembrance and loving feelings. While many flowers are edible, the pansy flower is popular among chefs and bakers alike because they not only come in many colors, but are edible down to the stamen, pistil, and sepals (the little green leaves directly under the petals). This is unlike most other flowers. Pansies have a fresh, wintergreen-like taste that makes them and their relatives, violas, so popular. Their cool, green taste and the whimsical splash of colors will brighten up both bouquets and any sweets, dish, or even beverages that you choose to incorporate them into. There are many ways in which chefs choose to do just that.
How to Prepare Edible Pansies
When picking edible pansies, you’ll want to make sure the flowers are grown with no chemicals or pesticides. So, the best way is to grow them yourself or pick some up from your local organic market. Pansies should be harvested at the peak of their freshness: when they’ve started to bloom, and before they’ve started to wilt. Pick fresh pansies, ideally after morning dew has evaporated off of the petals, or use them within a day of harvesting to keep their perkiness and flavor at its best. Give them a rinse to “debug” pansies, and refrigerate them until ready to use.
You can easily candy pansies by whisking up egg white with a few drops of water. Use a soft brush to gently “paint” the wash over the petals, making sure to coat the entire flower. Afterwards, dust the pansy with a light layer of confectioner’s sugar, which should stick to the flower in a fine layer. Place your sweet, edible flower on a sheet of parchment paper and let it dry overnight. Super simple and beautiful, pansies are a great way to bring nature straight into the kitchen.
Botanical Shortbread Cookies
One of the most common ways chefs choose to use pansies is in shortbread cookies. Pansy shortbread cookies are a great way to add a little botanical whimsy to your tea-time treat and will make guests feel like royalty. Many recipes bake the flower right on top of the cookie, using a thin egg wash over them. Another approach is to press the pansies flat first between parchment, bake the cookies separately, and then gently press the petals over the top of the cookie while it’s still hot; the heat will adhere the petals to the cookie easily, and will skip the thin, white layer of egg wash over the top of the flower—making it more vivid. Sprinkle granulated sugar atop the cookies if you choose, for an extra sparkly sweetness. This recipe also pairs excellently with a fresh, botanical tea!
More Edible Pansy Recipes and Ideas
Pansies come in such a wide array of colors that you’re sure to find the perfect ones for any dish or dessert you can dream up. Their fresh, slightly spicy, lettuce-like flavor has made pansy salads a popular and beautiful dish that you won’t be able to resist capturing in a photo. They are also amazing for desserts—whether pressed freshly onto a cake, blended into a batter, or steeped into a sugary syrup. Choose to candy them into lollipops, teas, pancakes, tarts, or ice pops. Or, pair them with savory chicken for a delectable floral recipe. There’s little you can’t do with edible flowers, as sweet and beautiful as pansies are.
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