Some of the most gorgeous wedding desserts are those that have been decked out in flowers, be they cakes resplendent with gum-paste peonies, or chocolate truffles with tiny rosettes perched upon them. Using real flowers adds another dimension of delicate charm to your celebration, so let’s take a look at some of the loveliest edible petals out there.
Sugared Flowers: Madly In Love With Life
Edible flowers have been used to decorate desserts for well over a thousand years, but never before have people had access to such a wide variety of blooms, or the means with which to preserve them and display them so beautifully.
Although they’ve been eaten since the Roman era, violets rose to popularity during the Victorian era, when they were used in salads along with borage and primroses. Sugared violets were used to decorate wedding cakes and other special occasion desserts, and violet candies were nibbled on by high society ladies. If your wedding is taking place in springtime or early summer, and purple is one of the main hues in your palette, definitely consider incorporating violets into your dessert menu.
Cupcakes: Fine Dining Lovers
As violets are rather tiny flowers, it’s best to use them in (or on) desserts that are fairly small, so the blossoms don’t end up getting dwarfed. Cake pops that have been coated in white chocolate would look adorable with a candied violet attached to the top, and cupcakes with buttercream or coconut frosting can become elegant little works of art with these sugary blooms perched atop them. You can also add candied violets to tiny bowls of custard, garnish ice cream or sorbet with some of the blooms, or even float them in your champagne for toasting.
Pastilles: Candy Warehouse
In addition, violet pastille candies with tiny anise seeds at their centres have been made in Flavigny, France since the early 700s (not 1700s: a thousand years earlier!) and these perfect little spheres are as delightful as they are refreshing. Tins of them would be lovely as take-away gifts for guests, or even to just keep around the rooms where the bridal party is getting ready.
Candied rose petals came to be used as decorations during the medieval era, and maintained their popularity ever since. Cookbooks from the renaissance period always included recipes for sugared petals, and roses were the most sought-after and beloved of all. These are still popular decorations for wedding desserts, especially since any colour of rose can be used (although pink petals seem to work the best).
Cake: Champagne Macarons
Should you decide that you’d like to incorporate candied rose petals into your dessert menu, sit down with your caterers and baker to determine what your best options are. Since petals won’t candy evenly – some may end up with more sugar than others, while some might discolour a bit – it’s often recommended that you use only a few petals to garnish a cake. That way, additional petals can be added to each individual slice as it’s served. You can also have a cake decorated with petals made from sugar or fondant, and have real candied petals inside the cake, pressed into the filling layers. Any leftover petals can be gathered up and used in the bath later…
Petit-fours: The Kitchen Lioness
Alternatively, if you don’t want full candied rose petals on your cake, you can use rose petal jelly as a filling for petit-fours. This jam is sweetly fragrant, and its delicate pink hue would look gorgeous between layers of vanilla or lemon pound cake. Cover them with a bit of pink fondant and a candy rosebud, and you have exquisite little bite-sized beauties to share with your guests (or hide away to share solely with your bridal party).
Although most people associate the scent of lavender with pillow sachets and their great-grandmother’s sweaters, the flowers actually have an intriguing, fragrant flavour when added to desserts. This little herb blends beautifully with other fruits, and a blueberry-lavender panna cotta served in little glass flutes would look exquisite.
Panna Cotta: The Kitchn
Lavender sorbet is a refreshing dish that can be served as a palate cleanser between dessert courses, and goes marvellously with lavender shortbread biscuits. Sugar can also be infused with these flowers and then sprinkled on beignets, or even added to whipping cream to create decadent, lavender-scented hot chocolate.
Shortbread: Fit to Indulge
Should you wish to give your guests some sweet treats as take-away gifts, consider a decorative tin filled with the lavender shortbreads that were also found on the dessert table: these go wonderfully with tea, and you’ll be remembered with every buttery, sweet bite.
Fiery and spicy, these edible blossoms come in a wide array of orange and red shades, and add a peppery bite to any dish they’re added to. Since they have such a strong flavour, it’s best to pair them with desserts that can complement and balance out their fragrance and bite.
The sweet richness of carrot cake provides an ideal counter-balance to the strong kick that nasturtiums carry, and their hues complement one another as well: if orange or red are in your wedding palette, then both the subtle brown-orange of the cake and the flame-like hues of the edible blossoms will work perfectly for you.
To continue with those bright, warm colours, consider a granita or sorbet made with a mixture of citrus and nasturtiums. Blood orange will give you a startling vermillion colour, while honey tangerine or clementine will be more in the orange spectrum.
These violet cousins have friendly little faces that are often cream-coloured or light green against a darker background. The most common pansy colours are purple and blue, so if your wedding colours incorporate blue tones, this could very well be the ideal edible flower to add to your dessert table.
Macarons: Macaron Fetish
French macarons are almost too beautiful to eat, but each bite is a decadent journey: the crisp, fluffy exterior just melts in your mouth, as it’s mostly just eggwhites, sugar, and ground almonds. Inside, the fillings can be created with buttercreams, preserves, curd, custard, or any other spreadable bit of deliciousness you can imagine. Pale blue macarons that have been drizzled with sparkling blue sugar crystals would be incredible if filled with champagne buttercream and then garnished with candied pansies. Can you imagine how beautiful a midsummer wedding would be with these at every table?
Lollipops: Sprinkle Bakes
Another cute addition to the dessert repertoire is an array of flower lollipops. These clear sugar treats can either be made by a local confectioner, or put together at home with a bit of patience and a good candy thermometer. Pansies are suspended within the candy, and will be cured by the sugar therein: yes, they’re already edible, but they’ll be a little bit more delicious with that extra sweetness in there.
If you plan to use edible flowers in your wedding desserts, be sure to source them from a place that specifically deals with organic blooms, as the ones you’ll find in most florist shops will have been sprayed with pesticides and preservatives. Don’t gather flowers from roadsides or heavily-trafficked areas, but if your friends and family members have grown these blooms in their own gardens – and have not doused them with chemicals – they should be fine. Wash and dry them thoroughly before using them, and be sure to take plenty of pictures of your gorgeous display table!