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By Crystal Baldwin
Lilacs usher in spring with their soft purple colors and delicate, but fleeting, fragrance. They remind us that a new season has started, full of promise and ethereal fragrance. I get so excited this time of year awaiting the tight buds to spring open! Living at 8100 feet means its a long wait for those amazing flowers and I am ready to soak them up in every way!
Every day I bring in a bouquet of lilacs once they start blooming until they are gone, which isn't long. They are so delicate and beautiful, but so short lived. Lilacs do not contain any oil, which makes their essence impossible to distill. This is why you never see a true lilac essential oil. So how do you hold on to those beautiful blossoms? You eat them!
Yes, lilacs (which are from the olive family - Oleaceae ) are edible. Not only are lilacs beautiful and tasty in desserts, but they are also good for you. Just like many other edible flowers, lilacs contain carotenoids (pigments found in plants) and in lilacs you will find lutein, in a highly specific, rare form that is found in flowers but not in very many other foods.
Lutein has been linked to improve eye health and specifically it reduces the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. It appears there may be another reason we are so attracted to the beautiful colors of flowers! So sprinkle those lilac flowers over your salads, add them to sparkling water and decorate a cake with them- eat up and enjoy the flavor of spring!
Just like their scent, the flavor that lilacs produce is also very delicate. One of my favorite ways to capture the delicate flavor of lilacs is with a syrup. Once you have a syrup you can create amazing, delicious desserts, cocktails, and even preserve them in the freezer or as a cordial. You see, you can hold onto the scent of spring.
With lilac syrup you can create all sorts of magical goodies. From frostings, jelly and cocktails to cakes, whipped creams, scones and gelato! Today we will be using the lovely flowers in our scones and use the syrup to create a purple lilac glaze to drizzle on top. Keep the leftover glaze for blueberry muffins or pancakes.
Now you can use your lilacs in more than one way. So, look at their beauty, Inhale their fragrance, sprinkle on your waffles and lift a glass with a lilac cocktail and toast to spring! Marvel at nature's gift of both beauty & health.
Preheat oven to 425° /Process Lilacs, see directions below under Lilac Glaze
*Note- these can be prepared and then you can freeze the dough. Pull out one at a time and bake when you are ready to eat. Make as above, then cut, into triangles and wrap in parchment paper. Layer in a freezer bag and freeze them. Remove from the freezer, thaw just a few minutes and then pre-heat the oven and bake @ 450°, cool slightly and apply glaze then serve.
For the lilac glaze you must first make a lilac syrup and then mix with powdered sugar. Start by making your lilac syrup. Follow directions below.
Mixing the Lilac Glaze
Follow directions above but allow syrup to cool just slightly, keeping it a little warm. Place into a Pyrex pitcher or something you can pour with. Sift in the powdered sugar stirring and mixing. Drizzle the glaze over the lilac scones (when scones are warm but not too hot) and if desired sprinkle toasted crushed almonds over top. Serve slightly warm with lemon curd on the side.
If you want to make a lilac syrup without sugar and use honey instead, follow directions below. Be sure not to heat the honey to avoid destroying the wonderful nutrients. Instead add honey to the warm lilac water once it has cooled slightly and stir the honey until it is dissolved.
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