Pansies stand for thought or remembrance, which is fitting: not only do they make a memorable bouquet, but a handful can also take a dessert from ordinary to unforgettable. Pansies and their relatives violas have a mild, fresh flavor or a more prominent wintergreen taste depending on the variety and how much you eat (a whole flower tastes stronger than petals alone). You should only eat flowers that are grown organically, without chemical pesticides, which rules out almost everything from florists, garden centers, and nurseries.
If you plan to consume pansies, look for them at farmers’ markets or in the produce aisle of a specialty grocery store, order them from an edible-flower source, or follow Martha’s lead and grow pansies yourself. Once you stock up, try using the beautiful blossoms in all kinds of sweet applications: perch a bouquet on top of a cake, bake them into cookies or tarts, candy them until they sparkle, adorn drinks with them, you name it.
Chocolate Truffle Cakes with Fresh Pansies
As if a rich ganache coating weren’t luscious enough, these triple-decker chocolate cakes are topped with intense jewel-toned pansies.
Each of these dainty scalloped cookies is decorated with a pansy and a sprinkling of sanding sugar before baking, which turns them absolutely radiant. Pack in elegant tins and gift to family or friends.
Perfect for afternoon tea, these lemon-curd tartlets have pansies beneath the glossy, clear apricot glaze; pansy leaves are scattered across the cake stand, and a little bouquet sits at the center.
A colorful assortment of pansies floats on top of this icy treat that teams puréed watermelon with white vermouth. More of a slushy than a punch, it makes a light, refreshing dessert in spring or summer.
Candied flowers like these Johnny-jump-ups can make any dessert pretty enough to serve as a centerpiece. The white grid on this magnificent cake was piped with a #2 round tip over a smooth coating of lavender buttercream.
Vanilla Pansy Cake with Orange-Blossom Syrup
Moist vanilla-bean cake gets three embellishments here: it’s brushed with a fragrant orange-flower syrup while still warm, topped with sugared pansies, and served alongside a velvety honey mousse.