Candied violets are such a Victorian conceit, sweet little nuggets that deserve to be ever so sweetly and delicately placed on little cakes or lemon tarts. I couldn’t resist exploring my lawn this spring, having already made dandelion salads, dandelion jelly and violet jelly, all absolutely delicious dishes free for the foraging. It turns out that we have several types of violet invaders on our property: two large varieties, one very violet and the other more magenta, a tinier and bluer version, almost the color of pale lilacs, and white ones tinged with pale violet throats. The bluest one made the best candy because of their smaller size.
Pick the violets at midday at the peak of their flavor, after the dew has dried and before they warm in the sun. Pick them with long stems, since you need the stems as handles during the process. Before candying them, make sure they’re clean. I shook them in a colander to remove loose first and the occasional tiny ant. You can mist them and dry them thoroughly on paper towels. I wasn’t worried about dirt so I skipped that process.
The basic method is, one flower at a time, to paint the petals completely with either an egg wash (beaten egg white) or simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water cooked until the sugar and cooled), then spoon super-fine sugar over them to cover all of the surfaces. I used the egg white method and applied it with a tiny, very clean watercolor brush. After you’ve prepared the flower, you can remove the stem or, as I did, wait until the flowers are dry and then use the stem to help transfer them to an airtight container for storage. I dried mine on a paper towel over a cooling rack (to let air circulate), but since some stuck to the paper, I would try parchment paper next time.
This wasn’t as tedious a process as I expected and I ended up with a few dozen candied flowers in under an hour’s time.