Delicate Jellies for a Summer’s Feast

I’ve been making summer jellies a lot recently. These are gelatine set ones not the ones more associated with my role on Big Allotment Challenge which are pectin rich preserves! The jellies add both elegance and a touch of “remembrance of time times past” to a special summer meal, reminding us of tables spread with treats at parties when we were children.

Leaf gelatine is now easily available, it’s simple to use and works perfectly. It took me quite a while to pluck up the courage to try leaf gelatine, I had always felt it needed the skills of a trained pastry chef so I more often used the powdered form. I should not have worried as it actually no more difficult: both types need pre-soaking and both must be fully dissolved before the jelly is put to set. Gelatine dissolves best in hot but not quite boiling liquid, so if I am in a rush for the jellies to set I try to dissolve the gelatine in a small amount of the liquid, keeping the rest chilled to speed things up.

The basic rules are :

Make sure the liquid you chose to gel is full flavoured, anything served chilled will taste blander than it did when you tried it at room temperature. You may need extra sugar or lemon juice.

Do spend the time soaking the gelatine properly: If you use powdered gelatine mix with water or reserved fruit juice, allow the dry crystals to swell and then warm this until you have a liquid that show no tiny grains of undissolved powder. All the packets will tell you never to boil gelatine but I have heated powdered gelatine to boiling point and not had any problems.

If you’re using leaf or sheet gelatine you’ll need a large bowl of cold water in which to soak the sheets. Put them in one at a time and occasionally check they have not stuck together. I find that you need to soak the gelatine for at least 10 minutes sometimes 15. The sheets are ready when they are completely floppy and soft.

Once your gelatine is ready you should stir it into the hot liquid taking your time and making sure it is fully incorpourated/dissolved. Now you can add any remaining liquid, juice etc

Place your glasses, shot glasses are particularly good, on a tray and make sure both the the tray with the glasses on fits in your fridge and that you have cleared enough shelf space.

Fill the glasses and put in the fridge to set, this will take about 4 hours.

Serve the jellies with tiny spoons and mini shortbread biscuits.

So on to my two recipes: The first one I made for a matching food and wine event that Fiona Becket and I gave, Fiona, who has a great website on matching food and wine suggested a Chateau Petit Vedrines Sauternes 2010 which was delicious both with the jelly and by itself.

The varieties are endless rose wine with summer berries, adding a shot of gin to an elderflower mix, and making a clear gooseberry and vodka jelly…. You are only limited by your imagination!

Campari and Prosecco jellies

100gm castor sugar
100 ml water
100ml Campari
15gm gelatin leaves (eight)
750ml Prosecco

Place the Prosecco in the freezer for 45 minutes
Put the gelatin leaves into a large bowl of cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes
Mix the sugar and water in a small pan and place over a moderate heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.Turn up the heat and boil the syrup for 5 minutes.Take the pan from the heat

Lift the gelatin from the water and put them into the syrup. Now stir well, it is important that the gelatin is fully dissolved before you continue. It may be necessary to return the pan to a gentle heat but do not let the syrup boil again.Strain the syrup into a large jug and add the Campari.

Stir well and then allow this syrup to cool until cold and almost set


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