Although summer may not be the best season for baking, on cooler or rainy days ☔💦 I like to let my imagination loose and prepare something fun, colorful and festive that doesn’t require a long time in the oven.
I’ve recently discovered edible flowers🌸🌺, that a local Whole Foods Market sells in small packages at a reasonable price of $4.99 each. My knowledge of flowers is rather limited, but I was able to recognize miniature nasturtiums, marigolds, clovers and tiny carnations, fresh and bursting with color, ready to be tossed into a salad or brighten up my favorite open-face avocado sandwich.
Note: If you ever decide to explore them in the kitchen, an important thing to know is that some flowers are toxic. So, unless you have an extensive knowledge of flowers, do not randomly pick them yourself. Edible flowers need to come from a certain source, be organic and only their petals are edible. Don’t decorate food with anything that might have been sprayed with pesticides.
Apart from their decorative value, they also contain vitamins A and C and some amount of nutrients. The vivid colors of edible flowers suggest the presence of beneficial compounds called phytonutrients, flavonoids and antioxidants that may lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
Some examples of toxic flowers: hydrangea, lily of the valley, daffodil, foxglove.
Common nontoxic plant safe for decorating: lavender, jasmine, lilac, pansies, nasturtiums, organic roses, marigolds (calendula).
Next day, however, instead of using them in a salad, I decided to bake my simple shortbread cookies based on the pate sablee recipe often used by the French 🇫🇷. I pulled the flowers apart to separate their miniature petals and pressed them on top of each cookie creating uncomplicated floral ornaments. The petals were so tiny and delicate that I had to position them with a jeweler’s precision, using tweezers.
Not only was it a great fun, but also an opportunity to stay present and mindful throughout the process- the baking turned into a meditation in action, making that task very joyful 😍 and relaxing. At the end, I was happy with the result – I loved those charming, imperfect floral creations that turned out eye pleasing, delicious and unique.
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 egg white (an entire egg white may make the dough a bit too hard)
- 2 sticks of butter, preferably European style, cut into small pieces
- 3 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- small packet of organic edible flowers from a known source
- parchment paper
- cookie cutters
Set the oven to 375 F.
In a large bowl cream butter, sugar and salt. When well combined and fluffy, add yolks – one at a time- and 1/2 egg white. Combine them well, add vanilla extract. Continue blending the ingredients until smooth, then gradually mix in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, blending it well with the mixture.
On a table or countertop place a sheet of parchment paper and transfer the dough from the bowl. Flatten the dough with your hands and cover with another sheet of parchment paper of the same size. Roll out the dough until about 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies in shapes of your choice. I used a simple round cookie cutter, but other shapes will work as well. Remove the dough from between the cookies, place the petals on top of each cookie and slightly press them down. Transfer the cookies with the parchment paper to a flat baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used up.
Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden.
When the cookies are ready, you can sprinkle more sugar on top of each. The recipe will yield about 24 cookies, depending on the size of the cutters.