Struggling gamely against the odds, in the fragmentary garden hedge of our newly acquired farmhouse, grew a nameless striped, pale pink rose. Its arching branches bore thorns that could easily rip into delicate skin with a ferocity that served only to render the tender blooms more poignant.
That was many years ago, when our one child was small and the next yet unborn, now the same rose - still unnamed - is replanted under an ash tree. It continues to bear some striped blooms, and some not, and when in flower is fragrant with uncomplicated sweet rose perfume.
These are the rose choices to look for when cooking - the paler and sweeter the rose, the better. Deep coloured fragrant blooms can have a greenish, bitter quality underpinning the talismanic rose perfume, and I find the woolly texture of the petals can be off-putting. Better to find more delicate characters and nibble a petal to select the ideal one. Of course you’ll choose blooms untainted by sprays.
On a summer's day, what better way is there to relax than with a cup of milk-less china tea and a perfectly formed rose macaroon?
Like replanting the old rose in a new place, I can’t resist changing, developing and improving things, and so it is with this recipe, which first appeared in my book, Gather Cook Feast. In this version I’ve added crystallised rose petals for decoration and tweaked the method and ingredients a little. The result is a more refined macaroon, and prettier too. The pillow-y oatmeal adds a clean note to offset the richness of the almond and the heady fragrance of the rose.
They are easy and quick to make, but you need to start the crystallised petals the day before.