At Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, spring desserts are often served with a seasonal flourish: a sprinkling of sugared rose petals. Chopped into colorful confetti or served whole on a cake or candy tray, the petals have a delicate crunch, inviting flavor, and subtle fragrance. We went to one of the restaurant's pastry co-chefs, Carrie Lewis, for a tutorial. Along with organic rose petals, she recommends using a small brush to apply the thin layer of egg white (it makes the sugar stick) so the petals turn out beautiful and delicate. At Sunset, we used the petals to decorate Butter's Vanilla Cake spread generously with Vanilla Buttercream.
1 large egg white (preferably organic), at room temperature
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup sugar (preferably organic), divided
1 1/2 cups loosely packed, dry, organically grown small to medium rose petals*, preferably in a mix of colors
How to Make It
In a small bowl, whisk egg white with salt and a pinch of sugar until frothy and well blended. Put remaining sugar in a second bowl.
Using a small pastry brush with fine bristles, brush a rose petal all over with a thin, sheer coat of egg white. Working over bowl, sprinkle petal all over with sugar and shake off excess. Set on a fine-mesh cooling rack and repeat with more petals. Every so often, rub your hands together (not over bowl) to remove clumped sugar on them.
Let petals stand uncovered at room temperature until crisp and completely dry, 1 to 2 days.
*If you don't have organic roses in your yard, buy them at a specialty produce store or online.