Violets are particularly suitable for candying, as they are fairly substantial, and do not spoil so readily as flowers possessed of more fragile petals. As an addition to the housekeeper's resources for decking the table in winter they are invaluable, and will keep their colour and their delicate flavour for quite a long time. They will help to glorify many a dish of sweets and cakes, and may also be arranged to excellent effect in little bowls with maidenhair fern and with fresh or candied violet leaves.
When candying a large quantity of violets, it is a good plan to select the bunches from all varieties, double and single, white and two or three shades of mauve. This will give more scope for the arrangement of the flowers in decorative schemes. Plenty of leaves should be prepared as well, but these must not be treated at the same time as the flowers, as they will turn the syrup very green, and give it a strong, unpleasant taste. If the violets are intended for eating as sweetmeats, the heads alone may be candied, but for making into bunches they must be used with the stalks entire
First of all, the blossoms and leaves should be rinsed in cold water, and laid out, each one singly, on a clean tea-towel to dry. They can be gently patted with the fingers between the folds of the cloth. Then they must be put aside for a little time while the following syrup is prepared. Take two pounds of lump sugar and two breakfastcup-fulsof water. Pour the water first into an enamelled or china saucepan, add the sugar, and boil the two quickly together, taking care that they do not burn. As soon as a teaspoonful of the mixture, when dropped for a moment into cold Water, can be rolled into a soft ball it will be done.
The saucepan should now be taken from the fire, and the flowers removed from the cloth and dropped lightly into the syrup. They should be pressed under with a Wooden spoon till they are covered, but this must be done without roughness, or they will be crushed and broken.
The saucepan is then returned to the fire, and the syrup brought quickly to the boil Without stirring. It should then be emptied, with the flowers fairly evenly distributed, on to cold plates, and left until the next day.
A syrup having been prepared, the flowers are dropped into it, and submerged lightly with a wooden spoon
If the syrup has thickened or become hard, it should be gently scraped from the plates and put into the saucepan till it just melts without really heating. The flowers must then be strained away, and the syrup returned to the fire with the addition of three-quarters of a cupful of sugar and half a cupful of water, and boiled again to the same soft ball stage. The flowers are put in and just brought to the boil, then poured out and set aside till the next day as before.
The final drying is accomplished by stringing the flowers upon wire stretched between two tumblers
The syrup must again be strained and brought to the boil, and the flowers put in for the last time.
The saucepan must now be taken from the fire and removed to a cool place. The syrup should be lightly stirred till it begins to get thick and white, when it should be poured on to sheets of greased paper. The flowers should then be shaken separately one from the other, and when nearly dry, taken out with tweezers and laid on clean sheets of paper.
Violet-heads may be left like this till they are dry, but when the stalks are retained the process may be completed with better results by stringing the flowers along a little wire rack. This may be contrived by knotting a strip of wire into a series of little holes and stretching it between two tumblers. The rings may be made specially large for leaves, so that they may keep their shape, though, if needed for the purpose of backing flat bunches, they will dry fairly well on the greased sheets.
The violet flowers keep better than the leaves, and, as a rule, it is a wiser plan to prepare the latter as they are wanted, whereas the flowers can be preserved in a dry tin for some weeks. The freshness of the green leaves soon fades, even though their shapes remain intact. A quick method of preparing them is to dip them in white of egg. or gum - since they will not be eaten - and then powder them with fine sugar. When dry, they will be ready for use. However, the boiling process will make them firmer if it is possible to wait tor three days while the flowers are being prepared; or, of course, they can be done at the same time in different saucepans.
The flowers and syrup are poured on to cold plates and left until next day. when they are again boiled and set aside to cool
Some pretty schemes for icing can be carried out in the violets. For instance, the top of a round cake will be quite sufficiently decorated with violet wreaths, daintily arranged and fes-tooned with ribbons. Another novel way of using the flowers on the table is to lay them in flat bunches in small strawberry baskets, and place them at intervals between dishes of fruits and sweets.
A graceful arrangement of the finished flowers and their kaves. suitable for a dinner or luncheon Darty