As many of you know we live in rural Devon SW UK, though the tea boy has a business in The Great Metrollops, our colloquial reference for London. Three hours plus each way, we have no intention of ever returning there to live. We go our separate ways, do the worky work thing, he drinks, I drive. We kick it there and back in a day, about once a week but only if needs must. We seemingly drove through all four seasons of weather in one day, last week. Ha! Oxymoron, Ill leave it in.
Spring is pretty but the weather still threatening and this is why I was, so obviously, bombed by a volley hale stones the size golf balls yesterday. I momentarily spied a glimpse of purple as I lugged the shopping into the house, though I was a tad busy being bashed by hail which somewhat deterred my impending glee. Pitiful sleet and snow showers overnight, bravo rebellious ‘host of golden daffodils’ you must be made from rubber. They bounced back in the sudden, variant morning sun.
Indeed, not aubrietia, but the prepossessing delight of the first violets this year. Sweet, old-fashioned, glorious, little darlings bring such simple pleasure. Devon being synonymous with the tiny wee perfumed power flowers. There they were, sitting pretty, snuggled between the riot of primroses. Soon all our hedgerows will look like slick city florists windows pretending to be the countryside, particularly wonderful when shot with early morning dew reflecting a subtle, fresh sparkle. No, the hedgerows not the florists, do keep up?
How to harvest this captivating élan? Not forgetting our desire for simplicity.
For the chocolates
To 3 tablespoons of cream (I used double), add a teeny tiny drop of red and blue natural food colouring, 1 teaspoon of violet essence for me, store-bought essence and syrups are widely available, if using home-made I will be visiting!
Mix the above and the add 3oz of icing sugar (85g) doff it on to the top of the fragrant primped mauve cream. Consider adding all 3oz from a great height, therefore covering your face and best jumper in a cloud of fine powdered sugar, it’s murder once combined with mascara and sets rock hard like royal icing notwithstanding causes utter havoc with the lanolin in your woolies? If there is sufficient fun in your life, add the icing sugar gently and with caution, which may be your preference?
Once your composure returns, mix and combine to a paste and if you were clever enough not to clean the fine dust from the work surface use this upon which to knead said paste. Roll into a cylinder, wrap in plastic food wrap, then pop it into the fridge to cool and firm, which is usually 30-40 minutes. Your fair interpretation is ok. No way I’m I including the words fondant, sausage and smelling of violets, behave.
Make shapes, no Madam not ‘like on the dance floor’! Traditional violet creams are flat based ovals coated in dark bitter chocolate, dress with a single crystallized violet.
Their less than uniform presentation proves that they are made by your own fair hand?
Violet Ice Cream
For an ice cream version I used half clotted cream, to icing sugar, (good mascarpone works similarly) add a decent dessert spoon of violet liqueur if you have some (and yes, mine is still from the same miniature from the Christmas hamper from hell), use flavoring syrup and colour at your discretion, but do add a whisper of salt to counteract the super sweetness. Scoop into balls (stop it). Since it is incredibly sweet I added teeny amount of fennel juice for a little background flavour, (finely chopped and simply squeezed through muslin) and opted to serve with bitter 85% chocolate which works well to balance.
Freeze, directly in scoops or similar placed onto a metal non-stick baking sheet if you have one, otherwise wing it with what you have. It doesn’t need an ice cream machine and sets well.
Once frozen it’s ready to serve, I simply placed the shapes into chocolate shells and dressed some with shavings and dressed the others with the prim little edible flowers and tiny frons of fennel. The naive chocolate flowers are from the remainder of the melted chocolate, see link here for more info
….. and that concludes our nature walk for today.