How to Bake with Rose Water

Vanilla rose meringues
Bring floral notes to the kitchen.

While roses by the dozen or a single stem staged in a vase are naturally beautiful, would the essence of roses be just as stunning included in recipes, or would it be a thorny endeavor? We turned to one of our Advisory Board members Lane Patten, M.D., a With Two Spoons food blogger, to create some recipes and offer some insight into baking with rose water.

Explain the flavor profile.
The rose water brings a floral note to whatever you are using it in. It is almost perfume-y but not quite. It's used a lot in Persian cooking, which I am not well versed in.

What does it "bring" to a recipe?
It brings a complexity to simple dishes—something just a little bit unexpected.

Are the amounts needed in a recipe similar to those of extracts?
You use much less rose water, than say vanilla. It is a very strong flavor.

I would definitely recommend using the rose water versus an extract, as reportedly the extract is harder to measure out in the tiny quantities needed and can sometimes have an alcohol aftertaste.

Did you experience any missteps while experimenting with it?
Definitely. I initially tried to use it like vanilla. I quickly learned that I did not like eating something that tasted strongly of roses.

What tips do you have for other home cooks?
Use it sparingly. The flavor should be subtle.

Vanilla Rose Meringues

  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. rose water (I used Nielsen Massey rose water.)
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a mixer, whisk egg whites, cream of tartar and salt. Add sugar, teaspoon by teaspoon, until tall, stiff white peaks form. Add rose water and vanilla, and whisk for 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag, and pipe shapes onto pans. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, and leave meringues in the oven until cool. Store them in an airtight container for up to one month.

Almond Rose Shortbread with Rose Icing

Shortbread:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. rose water
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. rose water
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • Drop food coloring (optional)

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and powdered sugar. Add almond extract and rose water. Mix for 20 seconds. Add in flour and salt. Mix on low until incorporated. Do not overmix. The dough should be crumbly. Form the dough into a two-inch log, and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for an hour or more. Once it's chilled and firm, preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice the dough into 20 cookies. Lay slices on a parchment-covered baking sheet, leaving space between the cookies. Bake for about 12-15 minutes (until edges are golden). Cool.

In a stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, rose water, food coloring (if using) and a tablespoon of water. Mix, adding water by the tablespoon until desired consistency is achieved. Spread the glaze over the cooled cookies.