Valentine's Day

Roses Are Red, But Almond-Filled Challah Roses Are Edible

February 13, 2017

The Valentine's Day realm of Pinterest is a frightening yet utterly addictive place.

There are all sorts of crafts I will never do, all sorts of negligé I feel uncomfortable even looking at, and all sorts of pink-and-red meals I can't imagine bringing to the table (let alone the bed) without Norah Jones playing in the background. (And Norah Jones puts me to sleep.)

So when Ali Slagle sent me this pin of roll-roses from a Russian website, I felt like I'd been thrown a life-preserver: Finally, a project I simultaneously wanted to do and could do.

Figuring that the basic shaping technique could be applied to any enriched dough that tolerates being worked with and holds it shape well, I made a batch of the incredibly Jessica Fechtor's incredibly light and feathery Five-Fold Challah: It's the lightest, most feathery challah I've ever tasted—it's got springs in its shoes!

Shop the Story

But you could use store-bought puff pastry, your favorite brioche dough (everyone has a favorite brioche dough), or Erin McDowell's all-purpose sweet dough.

As for the filling, the original recipe, translated from Russian, calls for ricotta mixed with sugar, ground nuts, and orange zest. I went with a batch of spreadable almond cream and chopped apples sautéed in brown butter on the stove until tender.

Then, when the dough was risen and roaring to go, I split it into 18 small lumps (instead of the usual 6 logs) and rounded each dough blob into a neat bun. Then, I rolled each into a small circle about 3 inches in diameter and used a tiny offset spatula to smear the surface with almond cream.

A dozen (challah) roses, please. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Next, I made four long slashes at 12, 3, 6, and 9—almost, but not quite all the way to the center—and spooned a small pile of sautéed apples on top. Finally, I wrapped each "wing" around the apple mound, using the sticky almond cream to help the dough stay in its hug (you could also use a bit of water on the edges of the wings to enhance stickiness).

I set the roses to rise in a muffin tin so that they wouldn't unfurl, then kept them snug in their cups for their 20-minute, 375° F bake. You'll see that the prettiest rose in the photo above is in the top row, second from the left. This one was made by our Director of Events Eunice Choi, who rolled the dough much thinner than I did. While her precision and persistence made for a more beautiful shape, her bun was crispier and drier than the others. (You can pick your priority! Or, pick a dough that's less wild than challah and have a tighter shape without sacrificing texture.)

Better than flowers. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Loved ones, take note! Give a dozen challah roses. They're less gratuitous than flowers—which are pretty but, come on, don't really do anything (and they're not particularly tasty, either).

While you won't be able to pick up a bunch on your way home from work (last year, on Valentine's Day, I bought up a handful carnations from the bodega and called it a day—Cupid, smite me!), if you start the dough tonight, you can shape them into roses and bake them off tomorrow afternoon.

Of course, if someone wanted to buy me flowers also, I'm not going to argue...

Are you into this whole Valentine's Day thing, or do you think it's, um, silly? Tell us your traditions and feelings in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Beth100
  • Kathy Mueller
    Kathy Mueller
  • Henk
  • Carol Kelly Yarborough
    Carol Kelly Yarborough
  • Eunice Choi
    Eunice Choi
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Beth100 November 6, 2018
I absolutely love this idea and I’m filing away for February 14 next year! I’m going to use an unyeasted dough to help the rose petals hold their shape.
Kathy M. February 14, 2017
This or is the Valentines day of my divine discontent (no I am not Evan thinking I am divine lol, it was the 1st time I could use a phrase like that. Really wish it wasn't tho) in October my husband 2 weeks shy of our 16 anniversary, to the final step in losing touch with reality. How I had not seen it? I know now he had been over medicating me for close to 4 yrs, I have advanced MS in an electric wheelchair. My mind had been only short term memory problems until he decided after a hospital stay when I really should have died 3 different ways in 2 1/2 weeks at the very least brain damaged or still in a coma. Dr's are still mystified. My husband decided I was no longer able to make up my meds, he started taking things away little by little as he slowly upped my meds than he stole my paperwork and other items I cherished. I didn't know it was going on I thought I had lost them. The Final day he had music blaring so loud the windows were rattling. I intercomed him because my cane and wheelchair were missing. No answer. I got to the door of my room when I opened it just closing it enough behind me so my cat wouldn't run out. He saw me he was wearing his Marine Corp Dress Blues had his Marine Corps sword. He pointed it at me yelling. You thought I wouldn't find out who I was didn't you Jezebel. All was reveled to me i am Jesus and am sending you to hell he ran at me I was able to fall backwards into my room kick the door shut grab my gun phone dial 911 and prayed I wouldn't have to shoot him.
Valentines day had been getting better over the yrs. More heartfelt cards olive plants instead of cut flowers. Or flowers cut from a plant he had wintered indoors. This s thanksgiving no cards flowers or lies, homemade yogurt with organic cacao and a gave for some sweetness now to make banana bread and a cheese cake. (Stress being jacked around making me expend more calories than in I am 99lbs I can afford some goodies:-) I am eating healthier now than u have since he took cooking away from me. Sorry for the novel and the UN valentine sounding comment. You asked lol. I am being good to myself and very good to my cat Sir Chazz he has helped me in ways I could never put in words. I have not completely mastered his language enough to be able to translate it yet:-) I know if you don't love yourself, you can't truly love anyone else. I had learned that well, yrs before my husband and I got married. I am an alcoholic and have been sober 23 yrs. I have faith everything will turn out the best for each of us and God docent give me more than I can handle.
I hope everyone had a wonderful day
Henk February 13, 2017
all roses are edible.
Carol K. February 13, 2017
Not tasty? Why not make them good?
Sarah J. February 13, 2017
I meant the flowers! These are incredibly tasty!
Eunice C. February 13, 2017
Love! Such a fun project. I'm all about gifts that not only look pretty but also taste great!