In an earlier post about the Kusmi Violette tea, I mentioned violet candies… well I’ve had the chance to try out a few different varieties, and I thought I’d do a brief post in case anyone else out there is as in love with the flavour of ‘violets’ like I am…
A bit of history…
My original obsession with the taste and scent of violet came as a child, staying overnight at my grandmother’s. She had a lovely tiny bottle of violet-scented perfume (an Avon perfume actually) and a tin of tiny little pale purple violet mints. I can remember loving them terribly – though I never saw them at sweet shops; only at grandma’s. (Though she must have either had a stock, or could find them locally, because I think I ate a handful each visit!)
I tried to find the candies and the perfume too later on, but never could… (Violet essential oil is incredibly difficult to find apparently, and thus anything that smells like violets is likely synthetic).
Fast forward a few decades
Later, a few years ago, I was in New Orleans, and when lined up at a drug store to pay for my purchase, I could smell that familiar scent – violets. At the register there was a little box of candies – CHoward’s Violet Mints. Even wrapped up, competing with all the other gums and candies, I could pick out that scent, and loved it. I picked up just one package, and the next day my travel companion bought up the whole box! (Leaving me with none- lucky she shared!)
Since then, I’ve kept a look out for both the CHoward’s mints (which are very hard to find locally) as well as for other violet mints/candies. Here’s my run-down so far…
CHowards’s Violet Mints
These mints are still my favourite of the bunch, with a strong, distinct floral violet flavour. These are square mints, and not too sweet. Delicious! I have found them only occasionally in the sweet shops in Banff, as well as Canmore. I found them originally in a drug store in New Orleans, and then more recently in a grocery on the Big Island of Hawaii. In the US they were selling quite cheaply, for about 65cents /package. Ordering them online works out to be about 56 cents/package, but then there’s the nasty shipping charges which bump the price up considerably – plus you have to order a whole box. They also make a gum… which I don’t like nearly as much…
Les Anis de Flavigny Violet candies
These Les Anis de Flavigny candies are my second-favourite, though they’re nothing like the CHoward’s mints at all. These are small round candies, which are incredibly hard – jaw-breaker hard… don’t chew on these ones! The taste is not quite as strong as the CHoward’s either, but still lovely. The odd thing, inside each little candy is a tiny anise seed which gives a strange change to the candy… but since I love anise/licorice, it’s very nice too! (These were $4.95 Canadian for the tin.)
These candies from Swizzles-Matlow resemble in both packaging, shape, size, and texture the “Rocket” candies that some kids loved for Halloween. I never liked Rockets mind you – but with the delicate floral flavour, (and without that Rocket-distinctive ‘fizz’) I like these a lot better! I’ve found these in the candy shop in Banff so far, but never locally in Calgary. (I don’t go to a lot of sweet shops anymore though, which might be largely to blame for that!) They’re kept in the ‘bulk bins’ because of their small size, and are quite inexpensive. (I don’t remember the exact cost, but they were probably 25-35 cents each). These are a British candy, and the recipe has been used since the 1930s! They also have a larger version, which is about the size of a nickle – though I haven’t had these in a long time… I’m pretty sure the taste was the same.
L’Ami Provencal French Hard Candy
Another French import, this L’Ami Provencal candy is a hard candy pressed into a flower shape – and definitely the prettiest violet candy in the bunch – and also the most expensive. (I think it was $11 for the tin.) I found these at the Banff sweet shop; they had this tin, along with a glass jar. However, these are likely my least favourite of the violet candies, not just because of their cost, but also because…. they don’t taste like violet! They taste like grape! (And I’m not a huge fan of grape-flavoured candies to begin with either…) Even my friend who tried one tried to pick out the flavour unaided, and landed on grape… although because of the floral shape had been expecting something drastically different.
Other opinions & options
Read a few more thoughts on the CHoward’s Violet Mints (and gum!) on the CandyBlog! The writer wasn’t too fond of the candies themselves, and prefered the gum, while the blogger on Badass Digest loves the candies as I do!
In my search I also found these Leone violet candies from Eataly – though I haven’t tried them before. If you see them locally, let me know; I’d love to see how they stack up beside the other candies and mints I’ve tried!
I also understand that along with candies, there are also Violet-flavoured spirits… This is another treat I’ve never seen locally… but I want to try it for sure! If you happen to know where to try a bottle, leave me a note in the comments below! Some of the different spirits included the:
- Benoit Serres – Violette Liqueur – A violet-flavoured liqueur made with the oil of violets and vanilla.
- Giffard – Parfait Amour – Recipe created according to a very old recipe with notes of violet, geranium, orange and vanilla.
- Giffard – Violette (Violet) – Pure sugar, thick, coloured and flavoured syrup. Flower and fresh flavour of the violet.
- Miclo – Violet – The finest violet liqueur produced from by the world famous Gilbert Miclo presented in a stylish decanter.
- Monin – Creme de Violette (Violet) – Nose of violet fields from the region of Provence in France. Intense and concentrated taste of violet candy.
- Monin – Violette (Violet) – Those delightful scents that used to hang around bouquets on our tables are now enchanting our palate!
- Hpnotiq Harmonie – with violets, lavender, and berries
- Creme de Yvette – a proprietary liqueur made from parma violet petals with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cassis, honey, orange peel and vanilla.
… and if I ever do find violet liqueur, the Absolute website has plenty of drink mix suggestions!