It has to be said, I like an edible flower or two in my salad. And yet rose and violet creams are the only chocs I can’t eat – way too much like perfume for my taste! However, there’s a much more interesting array of sweet, floral flavoured treats in France… and they’re actually not half bad.
- Rose petal jelly: sold in small jars at fancy delis up and down the country, rose petal jelly is a beautiful colour and even has some of those pretty petals suspended in it. Apparently, it’d make a wonderful afternoon accompaniment to tea and scones with clotted cream. I took someone else’s advice though and stirred mine into some champagne, but the afternoon tea thing does sound tempting!
- Poppy sweets: known as ‘coquelicot’ in French, anything poppy flavoured is inevitably bright red. It’s probably most commonly found as a flavouring for boiled sweets and lollipops, though I’ve also come across it as ‘pâte de fruit’, looking like a massive fruit pastille. You can get poppy biscuits too, but they’re completely different and made with just the seeds, as opposed to the flowers.
- Orange blossom cakes: orange blossom definitely comes across as one of the more fragrant floral flavours around. It goes by the name of ‘fleur d’oranger’ in France and is most likely to turn up in a sponge cake or macaron. I find the fleur d’oranger infused cream in a macaron can be a bit overpowering, so generally stick to the cake instead. Look out for the madeleines – they’re lovely with a cup of tea!
- Violet syrup: there’s something so nostalgic about the taste of violets… something to do with having eaten a lot of parma violets as a child, even if they weren’t all that nice at the time. Anyway, the violet syrup you can buy in France looks fantastically unusual and honestly tastes absolutely delicious mixed with lemonade on a hot summer’s day! The subtle violet flavour of artisanal French marshmallow is another winner.
- Lavender crème brulée: there are so many different flavoured crème brulée now (and I like to think must have tried at least half of them). The traditional creamy vanilla custard is an excellent match for many things – both sweet and savoury – with the added bonus of helping to tone down strong flavours like lavender and make them more palatable. Adding lavender to ice cream works in much the same way.
Rose, poppy, orange blossom, violet and lavender aren’t the only floral flavourings, though. I’ve found both geranium and daffodil before, but let me know if you see or get to try any more!