Let’s chat books and this month’s Cook the Books Club pick! Debra over at Eliot’s Eats chose this month’s book, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.
The story follows Victoria, a girl who has just aged out of the foster care system. As she begins to navigate life on her own, she often expresses herself in the language of flowers; a means of covertly expressing flirtations through flowers (each flower having a specific meaning). However, because of her past experiences, Victoria does not use the language of flowers in flirtation, but to express her distrust and hatred instead.
I was riveted by the story and fascinated by the language of flowers. Just before the end, the book was particularly upsetting, but (I’m being purposefully vague to avoid spoilers), it is because the situation is deeply personal to me and upsets me easily. Despite this, I very much enjoyed the story and can recommend it to others.
I really wanted to making something with flowers, especially one with meaning, but I live in the North and fresh flowers are very limited up here in the winter. So I had to work with what I had. And what I had were the blue butterfly pea flowers and they have no meaning in the Victorian language of flowers (sad).
Blue butterfly pea flowers are super fun for science experiments (they change color when you add acid). I also used the blue butterfly pea flowers to make tea that I did not like at all.
I decided to take a huge risk and use the flowers as a natural food coloring for some flower-shaped butter mints!
To achieve this, I make my own evaporated milk (needed in this recipe), but cooking down milk, while infusing it with the blue butterfly pea flower.
The kids and I were very skeptical and worried we would taste that flower, but when we tasted the mint, they were perfection! Soft and minty, and exactly what we were looking for!
Adapted from Southern Living
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon evaporated milk
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
Dash of vanilla extract
Dash of salt
Optional DIY Blue Evaporated Milk
¾ cup lowfat milk
2 tablespoons dried blue butterfly pea flower
To make your own evaporated milk, place the milk in a small saucepan oven medium-low heat (add blue butterfly pea flowers, if desired). Heat until steaming, never bringing the milk to a boil.
Cook, stirring almost constantly for 30 minutes of until the milk has reduced down to about ¼ cup. Strain the milk through a fine mesh sleep cool before using. Store remainder in the refrigerator.
Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. Add the evaporated milk, mint, vanilla and salt and beat until smooth.
Sprinkle a work surface with powdered sugar. Roll out the mint dough to desired thickness. Use a small cookie cutter to cut shapes. Set on a baking tray to harden slightly overnight (the outside will have a slight crunch while the middles stay creamy)