Apologies if this is panning out like a word association game, blame our friends across the pond but I just couldn’t ignore the natural progression from Peanut butter on to the joys of Jelly –but Jelly as in ice cream to be very clear –not as in that liquidy stuff spread between sandwiches and definitely not as in JAM. When it comes to presentation there is categorically nothing more beautiful than a wibbling, shimmering, gloriously shiny big jelly. I can’t put my finger on one thing exactly but you have to admire its shape shifting ability to mould effortlessly to any contour. Neither solid nor liquid, it is truly a wonderful, edible 3D canvas full of possibility.
Now this transatlantic Jelly/Jello divide makes for rather confusing use of the J word and makes searching for new and exciting ideas annoyingly tainted ––Even just searching google UK you think you’ve hit upon a decent article that will get to grips with pioneering new wibbling ways but no its just another recipe for strawberry preserve. I don’t mean to upset anybody stateside as I’m sure you are just as in love with your gelatine but I’m sure you can appreciate the frustration. At any rate, I think I can safely report that we are on the crest of a wave of a jelly/jello revolution – yes, pleasingly amongst the jammy red herrings are such revamped recipes as smoked Chilli Jelly, and a whole host of sophisticated sounding alcohol infused concoctions like fizzy Champagne Jelly, Wine soaked Raspberries in Chardonnay jelly and of course numerous vodka venturings. The Vodka jelly party is brought bang up to date with ‘The Art of Vodka Jelly’ the pages of this book are entirely devoted to contemporary jelly cocktails!
Not that there is anything wrong with the traditional! That classic, elegant jelly shape I remember from children’s story books – always bright green for some reason. Ok this does mean lime –perhaps not the best flavour but it’s a real stunner in that old fashioned jelly silhouette. I bought a beautiful vintage glass jelly mould from eBay last year (and there is an endless supply of them it would seem) – purely to sit pretty in the kitchen. Check out those curves! or another old favourite is to bejewel it with berries, transformed into suspended gem stones, viewable from all angles. So lets take jelly to the next step –more daring shapes, try pouring it into bundt tins – I’m going to try out my sand castle shape one, ooh and the ice cream cone muffin tin – a dollop of ice cream on top to serve would be sooo adorable! or try making a Lego jelly block – too cute! Williams Sonoma have a great range too.
And talking of daring, I stumbled upon the ‘Daring Bakers’ Blogs http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/ a fantastic group of food bloggers who set themselves a collective challenge every month to make some new and courageous confection and their results are displayed for all to see how they performed. The Bavarian Mirror cake demonstrates how just a little bit of jelly can be a very beautiful thing – here’s a couple of the bloggers attempts – so kitschly appealing don’t you agree? http://www.culinaryconcoctionsbypeabody.com/2007/07/30/mirror-mirroron-the-wall/ http://creampuffsinvenice.ca/2007/07/30/the-cake-in-the-mirror/
Anyway it got me thinking– what if you could combine those quintessential party staples – Jelly and Ice cream and give it just a little more portability and party factor – jelly and ice cream cake – a jolly gateaux to delight and endear - - a party on a plate. I haven’t tested this yet but going on the premise of mirror cake I plan to splodge ice cream layer into tin and freeze (probably easier to do this if you make the ice cream yourself so is fairly soft when spreading it into the tin), then mix up jelly and pour jelly layer on top and freeze. Release from tin and add to sponge layer mmmmmmmmm
I guess you could try setting the jelly on top of the sponge layer whilst the cake is still in the tin but am thinking the jelly might all seep into the sponge, thus requiring a thin fruit mousse layer in between. Mmmmm again though! Just imagine miniature multicoloured ones! – blackcurrant, strawberry, lime and orange with a berry suspended in the centre of each one – oh my goodness I think I’m going to explode with anticipation.. I have also just remembered how good jelly cubes taste straight out of the packet – will have to allow extra definitely. As I said before I haven’t tested this yet but mark my words, success or disaster I will have posted pics of some trials soonish.
If anyone has tried this before –let me know if it works. And don’t forget all the savoury ways you can use jelly to show off the most mundane of ingredients to its best – remember the Robert carrier Eggs in Aspic last month.
As a fitting accolade I will finish with an old poem that my Nan used to sing to us all the time.
B was a burglar who came in the night
and the first thing he saw by the shine of his light
Was a beautiful jelly all shining like gold.
“Ah” said the burglar, I’ll take care of this,
and he swallowed the Jelly and licked the dish.
I can so totally empathise with that burglar. Ah I can see his stripy black and white striped pullover and regulation swag sack so clearly as he enters the door and happens upon that shimmering dome. Oh and lets not forget the pigs without whose trotters none of this would be possible. Awww.