Sugared Flowers

Brave New Cupcakes history was made with our last sampler - VEGAN sugared flowers! Have any of you out there candied flowers before? Typically these masterpieces are the farthest thing from vegan, using egg white as the adhesive. But after some research, specifically by spying on the lovely Lagusta of Lagusta Luscious, I decided to try out some less animal-based options. I warn you now, the photos are less than stellar... I am guilty of iphoning. BUT Tyler took some amazing shots of the final, garnished cakes that I am working on editing. I promise those to you soon.

First you need a slurry to act as adhesive for the sugar. A slurry is made with cold water and starch, usually cornstarch. It's used to thicken sauces, soups, etc. In this case, I used it to bind the sugar to the flowers. I made my slurry with 1.5 parts arrowroot to 1 part water. Be sure to stir often as the starch settles to the bottom between sugaring each flower.

The other important part of this process is getting the proper grain of sugar. You want to have a glittering flower in the end (not a powdered flower or a granulated flower). Take your standard granulated sugar and pulse it sparsely in a spice grinder (don't overdo it!) to make it a bit finer.

Set the stage, getting all of your materials ready before you start. Put your slurry in a bowl, your sugar in a bowl, and find a clean fine-bristled paintbrush. Cover a tray in parchment paper to put your finished flowers to set. And then I would designate a hand for "wet" and "dry" ingredients, like you would if you were dredging something in egg/milk/etc. and then breadcrumbs? Because your hands will be coated and difficult to work with otherwise.

Paint the blossoms thoroughly with your slurry, but keep in mind there is a reason you don't dip them so keep it on the light side. Then toss the flower into your bowl of sugar, making sure it gets sugar crystals on all sides. Leave it to set on your parchment. Voila!

I would also like to note that I am aware that I am waaayyyyy late to the party in terms of having the best selection of blooms to choose from. It is late in the summer, and our options were certainly limited. We ended up going with goldenrod clusters (all the allergy-related rumors are urban legend) picked by our green-thumbed neighbor and some store-bought "garnish" flowers to round out the color palette. Next year, you better believe I will be harvesting TONS of the lilacs from the bush right outside my window... seriously kicking myself about that oversight this year.

But that's enough dwelling because TRULY they did turn out lovely. A sight to behold and a better than perfect crown for our brand new Almond & Orange Blossom cupcakes. The *only* thing I will change for next year is that I will likely buy some natural food coloring and color the sugar a bit so they look less "snowy" and a little more "jeweled."