Wednesday 29 July 2015

Crystallised rose petals

Start with these...
'I must be secure in my masculinity.' I thought, standing in the kitchen: overweight, long haired and bearded, surrounded by rose petals; brushing each one delicately with lightly beaten egg white before placing it with tweezers on Silpat and dusting with caster sugar. I must have made an interesting spectacle. If the lads from the Valleys could see me now...

In truth I've been wanting to do this for ages. I love the perfume and taste of roses - blame it on Fry's Turkish Delight maybe? - I just haven't had the wherewithal to remember to ask after 'ripe' roses. Sadly, they won't grow in my garden. They have to be perfect too and be a variety grown still for perfume and not simply for appearance. Maybe that's what happened with my rearing - grown for aroma not looks?

I was discussing menus with Mahan, who's dining with us on Thursday and mentioned that I was pining after some petals. Turns out her mother grows the right type of rose and Mahan, very kindly, dropped some off. 

I'm planning on serving the crystallised petals with peaches roasted in a bain-marie of rose and orange scented syrup stuffed with a nut crumble and served with a little vanilla mascarpone.

Brushed with egg white and dredged with sugar
Rose petals are easy to crystallise. It's a faff yes, but a soothing faff... and as we approach the work desert that is August, I need some balm. I'm rubbish with holidays.

Whisk some egg white until it's light and frothy and paste onto perfect petals using a good, soft pastry brush or very, very clean (let's say 'new') paintbrush. lay the petals onto Silpat or baking parchment, etc and sprinkle with caster sugar. I actually took mine a few turns in the food processor for a finer grind.

Bake (fan oven if you have one) for at least four hours at 50°C or until crisp. Don't be tempted to go hotter and faster or the petals will brown. Be very careful with storage. The petals will wilt with a whiff of moisture and will fall apart with even slightly rough handling. Delicate things.

I'm off to wrestle a bear now.

The end result, after a mere five hours

Edit. Here's the finished dessert, incorporating the petals... and the group responsible for it.

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