Curiouser and curiouser… one of my favourite garden flowers each year are the pansies. One of the first pops of colour to appear in the springtime, I love the variety of colours that these baby-faced little beauties add, they’re excellent in borders, in baskets & on my plate.
If I had to pinpoint my love of pansies, I honestly think it stems from Alice in Wonderland. Whenever I see a display of pansies I can’t help but think of ‘golden in the afternoon’, the scene of singing flowers & bread & butter butterflies (this story probably shaped me more than I care to think about!). I used to watch the Disney adaptation of Alice on repeat as child, forever fascinated by this wonderful world.
I can probably still quote you the majority of the film & own far too many copies of Lewis Carrolls beloved book. Even in my tea drinking, jam obsessed thirties (yep, it’s definitely shaped me), I still have a soft spot in my heart for Alice.
Much like the singing pansies accompanied by edible butterflies though, like most thing’s in my life, there’s always a hidden motive related to food & the pansies are no exception. Probably one of the prettiest edible flowers, pansies make for the most summery, simple decoration for cakes or colourful garnish to salads.
Pansies have a very subtle flavour… one that is very green & similar to lettuce leaves, making it open to adaptation, both savoury & sweet. Obviously for me, it’s the sweet side of life I’m interested in.
Here I’ve used my pretty little pansies centre stage, blooming proud atop a crunchy, crumbly, pistachio shortbread biscuit. In tribute to Alice, these sweet, nutty biscuits are a rather curious thing to look at but wouldn’t look out of place at any tea party accompanied, of course, by the best butter & some hot tea.
PISTACHIO & PANSY SHORTBREAD
(makes 24 biscuits)
- 135g plain flour
- 50g granulated sugar
- 60g pistachios
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 115g butter, cubed
- Pinch of salt
- 24 pansies
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- Flatten out the pansies by placing them on a flat surface & weighing them down with something heavy such as a cookbook or oven tray whilst you make & chill the biscuit dough
- Place the flour, sugar & pistachios into the bowl of a food processor & blitz until the pistachios are fine & blended with the other ingredients
- Add the butter, vanilla & salt to the bowl & blitz in bursts just until a dough starts to form
- Use your hands to bring the dough together & shape it into a round
- Cover the dough with cling film & place in the fridge to rest & chill for 10 minutes
- Remove the dough from the fridge & roll out to a thickness of roughly 1/2 cm thick
- Use a 6cm fluted cutter to cut out around 24 biscuits & place them on a baking tray
- Bake the biscuits in the oven at 180C for 9-10 minutes until they turn lovely & golden
- Remove from the oven & leave to cool for 5 minutes
- One by one, brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg white before carefully placing & flattening a pansy on top
- Brush the top of the biscuits, over the pansies, once more & sprinkle with the sugar
- Return the biscuits to the oven for another 3 minutes until the egg white has dried
- Remove from the oven & leave the biscuits to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before carefully removing & placing on a cooling rack to fully cool