Dandelion Flower Sorbet Recipe

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wondered why we call some flowers flowers and other flowers weeds.  I think the dandelion is a perfect example of what I’m talking about.  The flowers are the most brilliant yellow, the stems are long and straight, and you can find them right in your back yard.

I have always known that you can eat dandelion leaves, but it only recently came to my attention that the flowers are also edible.  I am so into foraging for food that it borders on obsession, so naturally as soon as I found out that you can eat dandelion flowers, I decided I had to make something with them.

Now I’m not going to lie — this recipe is a little challenging.  It takes some hard work, some patience, and some finesse.  But the end result is totally worth it; a sorbet that tastes like the essence of spring itself.

Enough chatter, let’s make some sorbet!

Dandelion Flower Sorbet

You’ll need:

  • 1 quart just-picked dandelion blossoms, harvested from a pesticide-free area
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

1.  As soon as possible after harvesting your flowers, use sharp scissors to cut the yellow petals away from the green calyxes.  Try to leave as much of the bitter white fibers at the base of the petals out as you can.  We’re shooting for as much yellow as possible.

2.  Place the petals in a fine mesh strainer and give them a quick rinse under cold water.  This will get rid of any tiny bugs that might be on them, so don’t skip this step!

3.  While the petals are draining, make your simple syrup.  Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  As soon as the mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and add the drained petals.  Let that mixture steep for one hour.

4.  At the end of the hour, use that fine mesh strainer again to strain the petals out of your syrup.  Stir the lemon juice into the syrup mixture.  Now place that in a covered container in the refrigerator and chill overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

5.  Freeze the cooled syrup mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  I’ve heard that you can also freeze the mixture on a baking sheet until solid and then puree it in a strong blender.   I’ve never tried this method, so if you do, let me know how it worked!

6.  Once your ice cream maker has finished, freeze the sorbet in a covered container for no less than three days.  Be sure to remove the sorbet from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.  This is not totally necessary, but it makes it much more scoopable.

Some notes on this recipe:

  • Harvesting dandelion flowers does not take as long as you’d think.  Take a quart jar out to the lawn on the day you’re going to mow, and fill up the jar.  However tightly packed the flowers are, that’s how intense the flavor of your sorbet will be.
  • Flowers harvested in the morning have a sweeter flavor, and the faster you get the petals into the hot syrup, the sweeter your sorbet will be.
  • You are going to want to eat this before it’s frozen for three days.  Don’t.  Seriously, I don’t know how, but something magical happens to this sorbet after a few days in the freezer.  It’s worth the wait.
  • I wish that the sorbet was a little brighter yellow.  I fought the temptation to add food coloring, but I’m not sure it was the right choice.  If you make this and decide to add a drop or two of food coloring, I won’t tell anyone.  I promise.

As always, if you decide to make this recipe, I’d love to hear about it.  Send me an email to Info@PaperTuesday.com.  Or, even better, share your pictures with the world by posting them on our Facebook page!



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First day of spring

I can’t imagine a more beautiful morning to ring in the first day of spring here in the North Carolina mountains.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life feels like a cliché.

The weeping cherry tree is full to bursting with tiny cherry blossoms.  The forsythia is practically falling over from all the yellow flowers.  All of our hostas are peeking out of the dirt, and there are the tiniest little leaves on our fig tree.  Seriously, does it get more adorable than tiny fig leaves?

With a morning like this, how could I not wander around the garden snapping pictures?  And as long as we don’t get a late frost (fingers crossed), it’s only going to get better.

What is coming up in your garden right now?  I’m obsessed with springtime, and I’d love to hear about it in your neck of the woods.  Here’s to a beautiful spring!

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Empty Pantry Chocolate Cake

Around my house, you can pretty much count on a couple of things:

#1.  There are always baked goods on the counter.

#2.  I am almost always out of some major ingredient.

This combination leads to a lot of improvising in the kitchen.  Which is why I tend to really lean on recipes like this one, since it doesn’t require much in the way of supplies.  And it comes together in no time, which is a total plus in my book.

This recipe is actually a riff on Wacky Cakes, which are desserts people used to make during the Great Depression, when ingredients like eggs, milk, and butter were in short supply.  If you have some very basic kitchen staples hanging around, you can make this cake.

Empty Pantry Chocolate Cake

You’ll Need:

  • 1-1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder (I like Dutch Process for this recipe, but whatever you’ve got is fine)
  • 1-1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Cold Water
  • Frosting of your choice

1.  Preheat your oven to 350°F and lightly grease some sort of pan(s).  For this recipe, I used four 4″ round cake pans.  But I’m just showing off.  If you’re a normal person, you can use one 9″ cake pan, or a muffin tin, or try two clean coffee cans.  The coffee cans will give you cakes similar in size to mine, and you have the added benefit of exhibiting some super Depression-era realness.

2.  Make your batter while your oven is heating up.  In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa powder.  Whisk the mixture (with an actual whisk) until the color looks evenly grayish brown all the way through.  This is the hardest part of the recipe.  It’s not hard, the rest of the recipe is just really easy.  Into the dry ingredients bowl, pour the remaining ingredients.  Use that whisk again to get it all good and mixed.  Don’t worry about over-beating, this recipe is totally forgiving.

3.  Pour the prepared batter into your prepared pan(s).  As a rule of thumb, never fill any cake pan more than 2/3 of the way full.  Usually 1/4 cup measuring cup fills each hole of a standard muffin tin nicely.  If you’re using coffee cans (good for you!) only fill them about half way up.  You can bake any left over batter into a regular cake pan.

5.  Bake until done.   For a 9″ pan, or two coffee cans, that will be about 30 minutes.  For cupcakes, it’ll be closer to 18 minutes.  It’s better to check them too often than to let them burn.  Cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

6.  Put the cake into the freezer after five minutes.  That’s right, put the cake (still in the pan) into the freezer.  We’re not going to freeze it, just cool it off a little.  Remember, the pan is hot and it’ll melt stuff, so keep that in mind.  Now make your frosting.  When the frosting is done, your cake should be nice and cool (we’re aiming for somewhere around room temperature here).

7.  Cut into layers.  Cut the rounded top of the cake off to make it as flat as possible.  Now cut it into as many layers as you want, and put a nice layer of frosting in between each layer.  This whole thing only takes a minute, and it looks way more impressive than a single layer.  I promise it’s worth it.

Some notes on this recipe:

You can improvise like crazy with this thing. 

  • If you want to sub some milk (regular, almond, coconut, whatever) for the water, that’s totally fine. (Try brewed coffee, too.  It’s delicious.)
  • If you want to use lemon juice or fancy vinegar instead of white vinegar, go ahead.
  • One of my favorite variations on this recipe is to sub balsamic for the white vinegar and olive oil for the canola.  It feels so fancy.
  • Try using fruit preserves in between some of the layers, and whipped cream in between the others.  It’s divine.

If you make this cake (or some variation of it) I’d love to hear about it!  Leave a comment below.


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Mini Bunting Card DIY

I was shopping at a local discount store a couple of days ago, and I found a Fiskars triangle-shaped craft punch for super cheap.  It was too good a deal to pass up, but it took me a while to figure out a project to use it for.  I ended up using a version of the technique I’m going to show you to make a birthday card for my niece’s first birthday.  I ironed out some kinks, and now I want to show you what I came up with.

You’ll Need:

  • Heavy Weight Card Stock (measuring around 8-1/2″ x 6″, for the card itself)
  • Light Weight Card Stock (for the bunting)
  • Triangle Craft Punch 
  • Twine (about 8 inches)
  • Glue Dots
  • Letter Stamps or Stickers
  • Scissors

First, cut out the bunting.  Fold some light weight card stock in a strip wide enough to measure twice the length of your triangle punch.  This is not exact science, just make sure you give yourself plenty of card stock to work with.

Now position your punch almost all the way up to the folded edge of card stock and punch all the way through.  You should end up with a diamond shape with a fold right in the middle, like this:

If you ended up with two triangles instead, you just need to punch a little further away from the folded edge.  No big deal.  Now punch out a bunch of these diamonds.  It doesn’t hurt to punch several more than you need, to be on the safe side.

Now stamp your message onto the bunting.  I would highly recommend using one stamp per flag.

When you’re all done stamping, fold each flag over the twine, and affix the two sides together with a glue dot.  If you place the dot at the bottom of the flag, you’ll be able to adjust the flags a little more.

Now fold the card directly in half vertically.  Punch a small hole at the top two corners, and string your bunting through the two holes.  Tie small knots on the outside of each end of twine.  Your final product should look like this:

Now you’re ready to add a greeting, put the card in an envelope, and stick it in the mail.

Some Notes About This Project:

  • Heavy card stock can be too much to punch through, so make sure you’re using light weight stuff (like they use for scrap-booking).
  • If you don’t have a craft punch, you can still totally make this project.  Just use some scissors and a ruler to cut out the triangles.

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