Cooking with Roses

Last August I found a copy of a lovely out-of-print book, The Art of Cooking with Roses (1968) by Jean Gordon. While I waited until roses were again in season (May-June) before testing some recipes, I enjoyed reading Gordon's chapters on rosewater, rose extract, rose syrup, rose petals and rose petal preserves, and rose hips.

A dedicated rose enthusiast, Gordon founded the Rose Museum in St. Augustine, Florida in 1956. She also organized national rose exhibitions in the United States, lectured and published articles on the uses of roses, and was a member of the American Rose Society. Gordon wrote several rose-themed books including Pageant of the Rose, Rose Recipes: Customs, Facts, Fancies, and Immortal Roses: One Hundred Rose Stories, as well as Orange Recipes and Coffee Recipes. Although I could not find any information on the Rose Museum, operated from Gordon's home, the New York Botanical Garden's Library archives include a collection of Jean Gordon's papers: "newspaper clippings, photographs, notes, correspondence, journals, seed catalogs, book reviews, posters, photographic reproductions, booklets, leaflets, bibliographic index cards, and postcards" from the years 1950-80.

The Art of Cooking with Roses by Jean Gordon (New York: Walker & Co., 1968).

The Art of Cooking with Roses is particularly delightful, with uncomplicated recipes from around the world, including Turkish Rice Pudding (Kazandibi), courtesy of the Turkish Embassy, Chestnuts with Coffee Sauce, Indian Nut Custard, Scrambled Eggs with Rose Petals, Pickled Rosebuds, and Black-Eyed Carrots, cooked with black currants, butter and rosewater.

A recipe for crystallized rose petals caught my attention. Dipped in egg whites and dusted with sugar, the fragrant petals become crunchy like a delicate candy- a perfect decoration for cupcakes iced with Gordon's recipe for rose-flavored butter frosting.

Crystallized Rose Petals

Crystallized Rose Petals, from The Art of Cooking with Roses

Select highly scented fresh roses. Wash and dry well. Beat white of one egg to a foam. Dip small pastry brush (or use fingers) in egg white and brush well over sides of rose petals. Be certain that no surplus egg white remains on petal, but that both sides are moist. Shake granulated sugar on both sides and place on tray to dry in refrigerator.

Rose-Flavored Butter Cream Frosting, from The Art of Cooking with Roses


1/2 cup butter
1 lb sifted confectioners' sugar
dash of salt
4-5 Tbs rosewater

Cream butter with salt; add part of the confectioners' sugar gradually, blending after each addition. Add remaining sugar alternately with rosewater, beating vigorously after each addition until smooth and creamy. This amount should be enough to cover top and sides of two 9-inch layers, or 15 to 20 cupcakes.

Rose Cream Cupcakes Topped with Crystallized Rose Petals

For more on roses and gardens, including my rosewater recipe, see Rosewater: Essence of the Garden
& A Thousand Damask Roses


Clothilde said...

A fond memory of mine is of a meal served by the
charming hostess of a house where I stayed overnight in Dedham, Mass. in July of 1976. She had a great
passion and a talent for gardening and served us the most deliciously simple salad of Boston lettuce sprinkled with pink rose petals, both just taken from the garden. Roses are quite ephemeral however they are experienced. Thank you for the references to
other uses of the rose in cooking.

Birgit said...

Just gorgeous! Crystallized rose petals have a real elegance about them. If I were to try the cupcakes with candied rose petals instead, though, would there be a big difference?

OysterCulture said...

I've been thinking about doing some posts on cooking with flowers. The candied petals are great reminders. For me one of the first things that comes to mind is rosewater and the amazing affect it has on food.

I have to say I must improve my crystallization technique. I was a bit heavy handed on the egg whites and they were a bit gloopy.

the five o'clock teaspoon :: said...

I love roses in salads too. Perhaps rose dishes are so memorable because of that ephemeral quality you note.

There wouldn't be a noticeable difference in the finished cupcakes but candied petals are a little time consuming as they involve dipping each petal into caramelized sugar. However, since no egg whites are used, they keep longer than crystallized petals.

To combat the gloopy effect of the egg whites, you might want to try Gordon's advice to brush the egg white on using your finger. Good luck!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I've made rose gelatin, rose jam, and rose ice cream. Haven't blogged any of them yet though. Haha. My next attempt is the rose petal quail in "Like Water for Chocolate."

the five o'clock teaspoon :: said...

That is such a good book and I've never cooked any of the recipes. I wonder if they are true to their description...
Hope you blog about it when you try it :D