I guess I’m not unique in that I have binge-watched The Great British Bake Off during this pandemic. A pattern I’ve noticed is that almost everyone attempting to use rose water in their creations gets told off because it’s too dominant. I agree. It’s a very tricky flavor to get right, and one of the main reasons I often don’t appreciate baklava; it’s almost always too damn strong!
Then one morning, soon after one of these rose thrashings, I was in the kitchen making rose hip soup from a mix. This probably sounds a bit strange to anyone who is not a Swede, but this is a childhood delicacy, and every time someone returns or visits from Sweden, this is on the wishlist for them to bring. Anyway, the thought occurred to me, that maybe – just maybe – a little of the perfumy rose water might taste good with the rose hip soup. After all, they ARE from the same plant. Said and done. I put a tiny drop on a table spoon, drained the excess back in the bottle, and ladled the soup into the almost clean spoon. Seriously, the amount of that potent rose water was miniscule, but together it tasted heavenly! It lifted what was already very tasty to an entirely new level! Delicious!!
So, from there, I was off on a culinary thought experiment. What if I could thicken the rose-enhanced soup to a more jelly like consistency, and use it as a filling in a petit four type little cup made with an almond short crust? I used both sweet and bitter almonds. Come to think of it, almonds too, are members of the Rosaceae family, so if I could pull this off, it would be a botanical family affair. Pretty cool when you think of it from a gardening standpoint, I think!
Anyway, this was easier to think up than to perfect, but happy to report that my first attempt wasn’t too bad. There is hope. The first batch became a calcium enriched version, when I dropped half an eggshell into the mixer. Duh! I picked most of it out, but there was a little extra crunch here and there. I greased my hitherto unused cake molds VERY conscientiously, but those little elegant servings I had envisioned never materialized. We had to spoon them out of the molds as they wouldn’t release. Great flavor, but the textures and the handling weren’t great.
I put a thin slice of marzipan in each, to prevent the chance of a “soggy bottom”. From that vantage point, I’m not sure it was needed, but it did enhance the almond, so it will stay. Two tablespoons of potato starch thickened the soup to a near perfect consistency, but the rose flavor I had so gingerly added before thickening, seemed to have mysteriously vaporized after bringing it back up to a boil. It tasted great, and then…. barely a hint. I wonder if it was the heat…? Next time, I’ll try adding the rose water last, to see if that makes a difference.
We added a dollop of whipped cream on top. I’m still thinking about that part – it would be better with something else, something “brighter”. As we were tasting and analyzing, my mind went straight to Calvados. Maybe if I add a sauce…? I think some of that good apple liquor might be beneficial in some form or other. And yes, if so – apples too, are members of Rosaceae.
Well, it’s easy to get carried away. Sometimes less is more, so I’ll keep that in mind when revising. My presentation skills are obviously lacking as well. So, not unexpectedly, no Star Baker for me this week. But, it’s fun to play, even if not in *that* league. As for the rose experiment, I think we can safely say it is ongoing. And I learned more about a great plant family.