Flowers have been used in cooking and to decorate food serving dishes since Roman times. They have been brewed in teas, offered as aphrodisiacs and used for flavoring in both sweet and savory dishes. Most people think first of using herbs in savory dishes when selecting plants from their gardens for cooking. A visit to the perennial flower garden can also add color and flavor to desserts and salads.
Rose petals add fragrance add beauty to any cake. Place rose petals on an iced cake for decoration that is safe to eat. Make candied rose petals by dipping them in egg whites beaten with a little water. Then dip the petal in sugar and allow it to dry before placing it on any dessert.
For a very elegant dessert, hollow out a rose leaving only the external petals and fill the center with ice cream, flavored whipped cream or any other soft dessert. Serve with crisp cookies and watch the delight on your guests faces.
Lavender is popular for baking and serving with desserts. Dried or fresh flowers are added to cake and cookie batter. They can also be used as a decoration on an iced cake, but they lack the showy appeal of flower petals. Try lavender in a chocolate cake, chocolate icing or brownies.
When using lavender, be sure to wash the flowers thoroughly. Use them while they are freshly picked. Dried lavender added to sugar makes a flavorful sweetener for teas and in baked goods. Lavender compliments lemon flavor so using both lemon and lavender in a recipe is a good choice.
Carnations and nasturtiums make beautiful cake decorations. Their spicy flavor is more suited to salads and vegetable dishes; but as a garnish on a dessert, they are bright and inviting. The petals can be candied the same way as rose petals before using them.
Pansies and violets may be used much like roses. They have a sweet, spearmint flavor that complements most desserts. Serve on cakes, ice cream or any dessert.