Carrot Roses · GF (about 30)

If a dusting of powdered sugar represents a “1” on the Garnishing Difficulty Scale and a “10” involves making a chocolate sculpture of Elton John, carrot roses are like a 2. Cook some carrot peels in simple syrup, wind them up into little flowers. Really, more like a 1.5 now that I think about it.

Actually reading about how it’s done is harder than making the roses themselves, like reading detailed directions for tying your shoelaces. But trust me: standing in the kitchen with carrot strips in hand, the roses will practically make themselves.

The roses look pretty but taste better, especially if you add citrus slices, vanilla bean or a stick of cinnamon to the simple syrup. They make an obvious garnish for carrot cake but also work nicely in a fruit tart or with panna cotta.

Carrot Roses
8 ounces sugar
8 ounces water
1/4 teaspoon salt
optional: 1 lemon or orange, sliced; cinnamon stick; split vanilla bean
6 large carrots, preferably long, thick ones (cue the sophomoric laughter) that are as straight as possible.

In medium sauce pot, combine the sugar, water, salt and optional flavoring and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally to help the sugar dissolve.

Meanwhile, peel the carrots. With a sharp knife, carefully trim one side of each carrot so it will lay flat. Next, hold a vegetable peeler firmly against the top side of the carrot and, starting at the small end, draw the peeler across the length of the carrot. You want to press down firmly as you go in order to get nice, thick pieces.

Discard the first few peels, they’ll be too irregular to use. But once you’ve peeled out a flat area, you’ll be able to start peeling up thick carrot ribbons.

making carrot ribbons

Repeat with the remaining carrots until you have as many carrot peels as you’d like roses; maybe a few extra because some may rip.

Drop the carrot peels into the bubbling syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid returns to a simmer. Cook undisturbed for one minute. Shut off the heat and let the mixture cool enough to handle comfortably.

To make the roses:

1. Pull a ribbon out of the syrup and let the excess drip off.
2, 3. Take hold of the narrow end of the carrot ribbon with your dominate hand and hold the wide end with the other. Twist the narrow end with the same motion you’d use to turn the key in a car ignition. This will cause the narrow end of the carrot ribbon to form a conical shape. Hold this “cone” steady in one hand, it will become the center of the rose
4. Wrap the wide end once around the center, in a counter clockwise motion. Then give the ribbon a twist and wrap it around the center again.
5. Making the rose is all about twisting the carrot ribbon while also wrapping it around the bud. Keep twisting and winding until you’ve used the ribbon up. Tuck the end of the ribbon under the rose and you’re done!

How to make carrot roses

Here it is again, with the other hand. If you want to make a larger rose, after the last step, simply tuck another carrot ribbon beneath the rose and keep twisting and winding it around and around.

step by step carrot roses

The shape of the rose is in flux while the flower forms, you’ll notice the above roses look a bit different from one frame to the next. It’s all the same rose, but the slippery poached carrot ribbon continues to twist throughout the process. You might be tempted to think you’re off to a bad start, but keep twisting and wrapping and wait until you’re finished before judging your rose. If you don’t like it, unfurl and try again.

Either use immediately to garnish a carrot cake or other dessert, or carefully place the rose on a parchment lined sheet pan or plate. The rose will unwind if you set it down carelessly; as you let go, press down gently with your index finger so the loose end on the bottom remains secure beneath the flower.

The carrot roses will keep for about a day at room temperature, or up to three days refrigerated. After refrigerating, dab a bit of reserved simple syrup onto each rose with a pastry brush to freshen them up as they will dull a bit over time.


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Any questions?

Apr 26, 2012 ·  2:21 PM

Great idea! Could you crystallize these by baking to dry them out first (after cooking in syrup but before egg whites and sugar)? Thinking they might store if they were dry and crunchy?

 · Junglegirl · 

Apr 26, 2012 ·  3:31 PM

Gorgeous! I have always admired the pretty carrot decorations yet had no idea how to attempt them. Thank you for this

 · Kiri W. ·

Apr 26, 2012 ·  5:31 PM

These are lovely. I cna imagine them on a carrot cake (nos very original but tasty and nice). Yes, how about crystallizing them? Thanks!

 · Tesei · 

Apr 26, 2012 ·  7:11 PM

Your carrot roses have created a madness in me. I want to make hundreds of them and put them on everything.

 · fatpiginthemarket ·

Apr 26, 2012 ·  9:07 PM

These are gorgeous!

 · CJ at Food Stories ·

Apr 26, 2012 · 10:57 PM

@Junglegirl, In this case, I don’t think that technique would really enhance the roses in either their flavor or shelf life.

As it is, the roses have the same tender-crisp texture of a poached carrot, and a velvety mouthfeel without any sugar grit. Crystallized, they would be very hard and very grainy; they weigh considerably more than an actual flower.

Crystallizing works best with very thin things, like flower petals and mint leaves, etc which are not cooked. Given the thickness of the carrot peelings (compared to a flower petal anyway!) and the fact that they are poached (wet & cooked), they’re just not very good candidates for crystallization; at least to the best of my knowledge.

@Kiri, glad to answer your burning questions. Hope you try them out next time you whip up a carrot cake.

@Tesei, if you can get a hold of purple and red carrots in addition to “normal” orange ones, you can make a really lovely bouquet!

@fatpiginthemarket, take some pix for me, I’d love to see what you come up with!!

@CJ, thanks dear!


May 03, 2012 · 12:13 PM

I can’t wait to try these out. Carrot cake is a favorite for birthdays around my office, but I’ve never put a real carrot on the top. Thanks.

 · The Contessa ·

May 03, 2012 ·  5:57 PM

Just made 300 of these for our workiversary. Super easy, looked amazing. Thanks you!

 · Megan. · http://$#&*

May 04, 2012 · 10:08 AM

@Contessa, your office mates will flip out. Let me know if you ever give it a try!

@Megan, I’m so glad to hear it. Wish I could have seen ‘em!


May 05, 2012 · 11:53 AM

What a genius idea! Definitely going to try these next time I’ve got some free time (Lord knows when that’ll be!) =)

 · Peggy ·

May 06, 2012 · 11:37 AM

@Peggy, ha! I know that feeling. And just what are you doing blog reading right now, shouldn’t you be honeymooning?


May 21, 2012 · 10:59 PM

Hello, I’m a long time lurker. Made these on a lazy Sunday afternoon to go on carrot cake muffins when i should have been getting my act together for an up and coming cycle tour to china I might add…Stella you are a major distraction! They’re so easy and pretty, thanks! (p.s. couldn’t get code for a link to work? not sure why, maybe a fault at my end) xx

 · Ellie ·

May 21, 2012 · 11:02 PM

@Ellie, thank you for delurking! Haha, sorry to distract you from your cycling training (epic!), but I mean, carrots are healthy, right? Your roses look beautiful, thanks so much for sharing. (I fixed the link for you. )


May 14, 2013 · 12:01 AM

I kind of love that you wrote “queue” instead of “cue”…

 · Psyche1226 · 

May 14, 2013 ·  9:39 AM

ahahah, whoopsie!! Thanks for noticing, I guess the sophomoric laughter could be lined up….


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